Sunday, July 25, 2010

Come As You Are, But Come Prepared: The Passenger

Craft cocktail bar The Passenger, located across from the convention center (1021 7th Street, NW), is a unique place. In a city full of bars trying be something, The Passenger isn't trying to be anything in particular. For instance, I had it in my head that a cocktail bar would specialize in a list of signature drinks. Nope, not here. A beer list of, count them, four drafts and many more selections by the can (yes, can) was complimented by a very short wine list. We were left going "huh", particularly when we spied a completely unadvertised German lager by the bottle. As it turned out, all we had to do was ask.

One of our group did just that and learned why there is no cocktail list. The bartenders (most of whom seem very involved in the management of the bar) at The Passenger like to "craft", but don't want to tell the customers what to drink. Hence, the "come prepared". For instance, had I realized the deal with 'ordering as you like it' earlier in the evening, I probably would have suggested that I like citrus-y beverages and anything with elderflower liqueur, and to stay away from rum. I kind of like the 'craft with assistance' concept, just wish I had known this going in.

Another example of The Passenger not trying to be anything is particular is felt in the vibe. I get the feeling that the regulars are not from any certain subset of society and the rest of the crowd is fed by whatever event might be ongoing at the convention center across the street. On this particular evening, the eclectic crowd was a mix of locals checking out the bar, neighborhood drop-ins, and a number of attendees from the tech conference that week (not altogether pretty). Lesson being, bring friends for an outing here.

Cuisine is not something that by itself will draw you to the Passenger. Most of the fare centers around hot dogs, and the offerings are a bit limited. We tried the house-made jerky, and it was good, for jerky. Other than that, I don't have much to say about the food. What I will say is the Passenger is a welcome change, a neighborhood gathering spot that in not trying to define itself finds its identity. A great place for a happy hour with friends, if you know your friends and know your drink.

1 comment:

Anna said...

I love the Passenger! Such a great place to relax and have a drink. I especially like how there is such a mix of people. You don't find that often in DC. :)