Here's what you need to know about the new digs.
It looks more spacious, but it's actually smaller.
The two-story space appears to be much bigger than the original location. But owner Tom Brown says the new building is actually 200 square feet smaller.
The old building held the Passenger and the Columbia Room, the prix-fixe bar that's now open on Blagden Alley. Without the Columbia Room, there's more space to spread out: At the new location, there's twice as much seating, says general manager Jade Aldrighette. The downstairs bar – brought over from the old location – now has room for 19 stools instead of 12.
Some of the design elements will be familiar to patrons of the old digs, including the church pews used as seating and a portrait of Bill Murray as Steve Zissou that once hung at Hogo, Brown's rum bar. A few things came from shuttered D.C. bars, including pink leopard-print chairs from Millie and Al's and a disco ball from Liv, the dance club above Bohemian Caverns.
"When the Passenger was still open, a couple of people showed me this building and I was like, 'Oh, that's too fancy and nice for the Passenger,'" Brown says. "I looked at a couple of other places, but they just weren't right. After Passenger closed, I was able to see [this building] differently. It turned out to be the perfect spot."
The drink menu is still just a suggestion.
The Passenger employed some of the top bartenders in town. A chalkboard behind the bar had a selection of four or five cocktails that rotated daily, but customers quickly got used to asking bartenders for "something tart, with gin" or "a bourbon drink for a rainy day," while the bartenders created drinks on the spot.
Brown says that hasn't changed: "We'll have drinks on the chalkboard as suggestions, but we encourage people to order by adjective. Tell us what you're in the mood for."
In terms of spirits, there's a special draft tower that will pour Green Chartreuse and Yellow Chartreuse – "we'll be the only place in the country with Green and Yellow Chartreuse on tap," Brown says proudly – and eventually a dry spiced rum from the yet-to-open Cotton and Reed distillery near Union Market. The Passenger, which previously offered 25 to 30 different kinds of rye whiskey, will continue to stock "anything that has 'Rye' on the label."
Beyond hard liquor, look for six craft beers on tap at the main bar and four taps upstairs, which might be used for limited or seasonal drafts. "It will be cool to be able to play around with different beers," Aldrighette says. As at the old Passenger, the house beer will be tallboys of Schlitz, but they'll have additional local canned options.
The second floor has a stage.
Whenever Halloween or New Year's Eve rolled around, the Passenger would host massive parties in the adjacent Warehouse Theatre. There were bands or DJs and over-the-top costumed events where staff and guests donned tiki gear or dressed as Greek gods and goddesses. Brown says he wants to keep the spirit going on the second floor, where there's a low stage with a 5,000-watt custom sound system and a mural inspired by Iggy Pop's song, "The Passenger."
"There's only so many people we can fit in the space with a band in here, but I think we can definitely have some fun," Brown says. He's thinking about booking local bands on Sundays and having DJs play dance music on Monday night: "Everyone in the [bar and restaurant] industry doesn't get to go out dancing on Friday and Saturday night."
As for those Halloween parties, all we can say is that this year's theme will probably include zombies in some form.
The old food menu will be back, including brunch.
One of the benefits of the new space, Brown says, is a much larger kitchen. Old staff members are returning under the direction of chef and kitchen manager Damian Tarlecki; the menu will be pretty much the same. Brown does concede that the Passenger is "probably dropping the hot dogs, because we've got a hot dog place next door" -- Ivy and Coney.
Look for the bar to open at noon on Saturday and Sunday for brunch, beginning Aug. 27. The drink menu includes Bloody Marias and Red Eye cocktails made with gose.
A rooftop bar will open – eventually.
One of the most buzz-worthy items about the Passenger's reopening was that the new digs would have a rooftop deck. That addition is scheduled to open Spring 2017. "We're concentrating on getting [the rest of the bar] open," Brown says. "We're not doing the construction now. The stairs leading up to it are ready. We just have to put a hole in the roof."
The Passenger, 1539 Seventh St. NW.