Washington, D.C. Opening: Barmini

Superchef José Andrés owns several of the hottest restaurants in Washington, D.C., like the always-fun Zaytinya, but it’s Minibar that holds the greatest allure, with foodies making reservations months in advance to enjoy a tasting menu of 30+ mindblowing dishes created using inventive ingredients and ultramodern techniques. The same philosophy goes into the drinks at Barmini, which just opened at the same address. Cocktail hour will never be the same.

It’s the bleeding edge of mixology as applied to classic cocktails courtesy of drink wizard Juan Coronado. Think "airs," barrel aging, infusions, and a few ingredients and techniques we’ve never even heard of. Since you’d best have some food in your belly during an evening of drinking on this level, a few light bites are also on the menu, like Butternut Squash Meringue with Yogurt and Honey, but they play second fiddle to the sublime artistry in the antique glass in front of you. There are precisely 100 cocktails to choose from, one of which is the weird and cool Scandinavian Cup,  with coriander aquavit, white vermouth, grapefruit bitters, absinthe and Viking syrup, a blend of chamomile, citrus peel, cloves and brown sugar made popular by the Vikings. Yeah, ain’t that some stuff. 

The small, er, mini bar is likely to be just as popular as its restaurant counterpart, so be sure to get reservations (through the website) well in advance. Drink prices range from $14-$20, which is the same you’d pay for a vodka tonic at some overhyped velvet rope spot, so, on some weird level, they’re a bargain. 

[Related: BlackBook Washington D.C. Guide]

Miami Preview: SLS Hotel South Beach

Like a Floridian Habsburg Vienna, Miami is prone to regular invasions from foreign powers eager to share in its decadence and wealth. Recently Vegas’ Light Group made its first incursion with its BIANCA restaurant and FDR bar at the Delano; and New York’s Thompson Hotels just scooped up and is renovating the Victor Hotel into the Thompson South Beach. Hardly surprisingly, the reigning princes of LA nightlife, sbe, are also feverishly expanding their empire into the Magic City with the opening of the swish new SLS Hotel South Beach. Indeed, with this dazzling new property they are willfully ratcheting up the glam factor of what is already one of the most glamour-mad towns on the planet.
Never one to be outdone, the talent enlisted for the SLS by sbe’s Sam Nazarian is enough to send most of Miami’s hospitality honchos scrambling for a renovation plan. To wit, Lenny Kravitz even had a hand in the design. And with the two eponymous culinary masters helming The Bazaar (by Jose Andres) and Katsuya by Starck, as well as an 8000 square foot outpost of sbe’s Hyde nightclub and rooms flaunting almost Versailles-level opulence, expect a curious convergence of rhapsodizing foodies and lounging beauties.