Take some of D.C.’s best-known cocktail and wine bartenders and you get…a good neighborhood beer bar, obviously.
Well, not quite; I have selective vision that turns pretty much all bars into beer bars. But The Passenger, which opens tonight at 5 p.m., is nay Cork nor Gibson, the wine and cocktail pedestals that the Brown brothers are known for. It’s a relaxed bar with a neighborhood drinking-room feel and some tasty beers, wines, and even cocktails if you ask nice.
The space at 1021 7th St. NW, which was formerly the bar space at the Warehouse and home to Punch Club, still has all its best parts: unfinished walls, old wood floor, and sweet wrought-iron tables. (Disclosure: I organized/bartended a non-beer event there once.) (Disclosure pt. 2: I really, really like this space.) The bar top is bigger and more comfortable, and what was once dead space in the back is being rebuilt to mimic a dining car.
The four-beer draft list is well-curated, with good a stout, pilsner, hoppy American beer, and Belgian all represented — and nothing shitty. If you’re looking to slum it, the menu digs deep in that direction too, with cans of Steel Reserve for $4. And taking some direction from Room 11, they’re offering punch and cocktails by the pitcher. I sampled a lovely sherry flip, with two types of sherry, brandy, falernum, nutmeg, and raw egg whites (yes!) beaten into a light, frothy mix. In fact, I sampled several of them.
The menu also features several wines by the glass, all three Dolin vermouths, and some fancified bar snacks, including a $7 kimchi hot dog you couldn’t pay me to eat. (Note to staff: It’s just that brand of kimchi, I can’t do it.) Fortunately there’s other options — see the whole menu here.
And if my photo leaves you wanting despite all its frontal-flash glory, ReadysetDC has the sights, as usual.