Serious Eats: Drinks
First Look: Hogo, a New Rum Bar from The Passenger Team, Washington DC
Head just two doors down from The Passenger in Washington, DC, and you'll be greeted by the giant face of Bill Murray's Steve Zissou. Step inside, pay your respects to Zombie Elvis on your immediate left, and you'll find the new rum bar by Tom Brown (of The Passenger). Hogo is your opportunity to explore the Caribbean vicariously through Tom's ever-growing collection of more than 80 different rums and a bevy of Caribbean inspired cocktails.
Tom Brown has always had a soft spot for spirit categories that offer diversity. Take Scotch, for instance, which Tom describes as ranging from "light and feminine to smoky and masculine." This translated naturally to a love of rum: from rums with touches of dark molasses to the grassy bottles of rhum agricole, Tom's encyclopedic knowledge and passion for rum is more than evident in the fact that he can't seem to stop buying the stuff. Described by Hogo head bartender, Julia Hurst, as a "compulsive shopper," Tom simply attributes his compulsion to a desire to share the things he likes with DC.
The current list of 13 cocktails at Hogo is filled with classic punches and tiki drinks, in an opening appeal to get people used to the concept and familiar with rum. Stop by soon and you'll find island stalwarts like the Blackheart's Punch, which brightens rum with lime and cinnamon syrup for a sweet-spicy finish, and the Volcano Bowl, a spin on the Scorpion bowl with four different rums, citrus, and a smoothing maple syrup.
Later on, Hogo will move toward a largely proprietary menu, à la The Passenger's cocktail board. There are also plans to offer rum flights to facilitate exploration of Tom's extensive rum library.
To mix it up further, Hogo has joined the Temporary Works Project, which entails loaning the bar's kitchen out to different chefs as a platform to "cook bar food with their own twists." First up is Javier Duran, The Passenger's chef, who's been whipping up Hawaiian food (think Loco Moco, spam, and Kalua pork), which serves the island theme, but the kitchen will not be limited to the Life Aquatic. The upcoming docket of visiting chefs is still being worked out, but there are tantalizing names being bandied about, like 2012 Rammy Rising Culinary Star of the Year, Ed Witt, and Yuji Haraguchi of Brooklyn's Yuji Ramen, that will ensure that you have a steady stream of innovative bar food to soak up all of that rum.