The info sheet handed out at Hogo’s media preview reads, “Hogo is part of a project called Temporary Works that hopes to bring new late-night dining options to Washington, D.C. by giving talented chefs a platform to cook bar food with their own twists. Located inside Hogo, Temporary Works has a dine-in kitchen that will be helmed by a cast of rotating chefs from Washington, D.C. and other nearby cities.” If you read recent City Paper coverage you might be asking, “would they really open a bar knowing that it would have to close in a year?” Your answer is thus completely out in the open, proudly announcing itself with the name Temporary Works. Hell, that’s even the name that appeared on the ABRA notice.
This cannot in any way be an impartial report. Regular readers of this site — especially the weekend posts — might by now have the idea that the Social Chair and I spend a lot of time at the Passenger, two doors north of Hogo. It should thus come as little surprise that we’ve come to be friends with brothers Tom and Derek Brown (and in the interest of the fullest disclosure possible, we have known their landlords and partners the Rupperts for even longer than we have known the Browns). We first met Tom in the company of the Rupperts after a “garage sale” at the Warehouse Theater, in the Passenger’s early days. Presented with the horrible beach cocktail book we’d bought at the sale, he admitted that what he really wanted to open was a rum bar with tiki drinks. Several years and uncounted Tiki Tuesdays later, he has realized that dream with Hogo. Not only have we known the new bar was coming, though, we helped paint the place and move the furniture.
When I inaugurated the We Love Drinks feature back in September 2008, I really didn’t give it much thought to start with, honestly. We founding writers were tossing around feature ideas, and I said, “hey, what about drinks? I go out a fair amount.” That simple. It began mostly with bar reviews, with some coffee and tea thrown in for good measure.
But that slowly started to change when I realized there were people passionate about drinks culture in the city – not just nightlife and where to go to get wasted (not that I was writing about that! those days are over, darlings, good-bye jello shots!). It was a humbling experience to discover what a neophyte I was – when I got caught in the crossfire of a discussion on how to make your own bitters, for example, or the first time someone asked me whether I preferred green or yellow Chartreuse. Certainly the vast world of wine was still a mystery despite the wine barexplosion, and don’t even get me started about my beer ineptitude.
So why I am admitting this to you? Because these days I’m all about humility. I may be opinionated, but I’m still eager to learn and am constantly excited about the many different possibilities in our city of drinks. Respect for the taste and the balance of a proper cocktail, diving into the vast world of wine and beer, and most importantly understanding your own tolerance – that’s been my experience in 2009. Here are a few key moments that helped me on this continuing journey. Continue reading →
Let’s say you love hand-crafted cocktails, but your friend is all about Miller High Life. Up until this point, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend a place where you both would feel comfortable. Thankfully, brothers Derek and Tom Brown have created a bar where the two of you can happily cosy up in a booth together.
Last night, The Passenger opened its doors to the public. The night before, I was lucky to attend a preview of the new bar and sample the atmosphere. It’s still a work in progress, the rough-and-ready quality mimicking the surrounding neighborhood. If you were familiar with the Warehouse, the space revamps the front bar and the back area near the theater. It’s got a black diamond quality, with exposed brick, hardwood floors and a long photographic mural that’s meant to remind you of the view from a train’s windows. Booths line the walls and by this weekend the back section will be finished to resemble a mirrored dining car.
If you’re expecting an upscale exclusive club atmosphere with pinkies raised over clinkety-clink glasses, well, you’ll be disappointed. What we have here is a funky, eclectic neighborhood bar that’s set to evolve organically. And I’m not kidding, in addition to those famous made-to-taste cocktails you can also get Miller High Life and a chili half-smoke.
The long-awaited new venture of the brothers Brown is set to open this Thursday. Yes, The Passenger is ready for embarkation on 7th Street, in the old bar space of the Warehouse Theater complex. It sounds rather rock-n-roll to me, with Tom Brown (formerly of Cork) slinging up made-to-taste cocktails, including seasonal pitchers, along with what will no doubt be a phenom wine list and beer – canned or draft.
Derek Brown’s internal combustion engine, the Columbia Room, won’t open til early 2010 – this is a smaller bar-inside-a-bar modeled after tiny Japanese bars with high personal interaction between bartender and guest.
Back over the summer, purely by chance, I ended up sitting next to their concept meeting outside at Room 11 and really struggled with writing about anything I’d heard that evening. I could’ve started a whole slew of rumors about what Tom and Derek were planning, but honestly, they don’t need the buzz, already being cocktail legends with a loyal following in the city.
Bottom line? I think it’s fantastic the two brothers are finally getting to work together, highlighting their different styles in one place. You can expect a funky interior that still stays true to the surrounding historic architecture, complete with a “dining car” in the back, but nothing incredibly high-end or elaborate – there’s a dedication to building a low-key neighborhood bar feel as well. Will it become a total scene because everyone and their mother wants a hand-crafted cocktail from these guys now? Will this finally revitalize that rather raggedy stretch of street? We’ll find out.