Upon viewing the menu (they have a small offering of bar snacks) and the drink list, it is obvious that this is not your typical frat boy bar; The Passenger offers up a unique experience that feels fully worth your time and money. Owned by Derek Brown, who also owns the Gibson, and his brother Tom Brown, who is a master bartender, The Passenger is a decidedly unique spot, with all of the imagination and attention to detail you could hope for from two people who appear to genuinely enjoy what they do.
The décor was spare and hip and there was a back room that resembled a mid-century train car, that was being rented out for a small private party. Our server, Alex, knew her cocktails inside and out and was able to recite the contents of any drink we had questions about, as well as make amazing recommendations based on our preferences. Everyone in the bar seemed like they knew someone else there, with a jovial community feel. The Passenger was exceptional but not stuffy or expensive; fun but not filled with binge-drinking undergrads. I left genuinely excited to have discovered the Passenger, like I had discovered a well-kept secret in a neighborhood that is otherwise oversaturated with uninventive chain restaurants and domestic-draft-serving pubs.
Must try: Kimchi hot dog (accompanied with your choice of about a dozen or so flavors of homemade potato chips) Schrimshaw Pilsner, and the Vieux Carre´ cocktail
The Passenger, 1021 Seventh Street NW, between New York Avenue and L Street (202-393-0220 or passengerdc.com).