The Passenger Opens Tonight

Though the place hasn't been spit-polished, brothers Derek and Tom Brown are throwing open the doors to The Passenger (1021 Seventh St. NW), their first solo venture, this evening at 5 p.m.

The new joint is kind of a neo-speakeasy version 2.0. It subtly nods to the Prohibition era (Derek was donning a vest at last night's preview) but it's a less contrived, more relaxed take on the trendy genre.

Sure, you can snag a well-balanced craft cocktail the Brown brothers are known for. But there's also Miller High Life, plenty of canned beer, beef jerky (albeit artisanal) by the stick, and a delicious kimchi hot dog (left).

Oh, and there's isn't a cocktail menu. "I appreciate cocktail lists for what they are, but they don't really tell you what a drink's going to taste like," Tom explained. Instead, he prefers to get to know guests preferences and create cocktails to suit them.

Derek will take that philosophy a step further when he opens the Columbia Room, a reservation-only bar within a bar, probably early next year. Plans are still taking shape, but the cocktail "lab" will most likely seat about 18, and Derek will make custom cocktails with a limited line-up of five or so spirits and housemade ingredients.

Claiming that "99 percent of people will hate this experience," he speculates the Columbia Room will appeal mainly to those die-hard cocktail lovers who like to dork out over ice cube shapes. The Columbia Room "is our world, just let us be geeks in it," he joked.

Launching with a few rough edges, like the unfinished room dubbed the dining car, hammers home that the new drinking destination doesn't take itself too seriously.

For a peek at last night's preview, ReadySet DC has some nice photos (cause Vincent had a way cooler camera than me).


FrenchTwistDC said...

I didn't realize you were there last night, I would have said hi. I was probably too involved with my giant bowl of olives to pay attention to anything else around me.

Amanda said...

Aw, I would've loved to meet you! But I too am easily distracted by olives.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to check it out. I do like a cocktail list but I guess chatting with your bartender can't be so bad.

widget said...

That is a cool old building. Glad to see you can still tell how old. Wish the rest of the bloack would get its act together.

Mary said...

What a coincidence! I just wrote a post on kimchi hot dogs in NYC! (http://girlmeetsfood.com/2009/11/01/nyc-kimchis-a-weiner/)

I can't wait to try one at The Passenger to see how they stack up!

Anonymous said...

they were out of the kimchi hot dogs (Red Apron) last night but had an excellent banger and mash instead.

Amanda said...

Bangers and mash? Cool! Glad to hear it was good.