Plenty of bars are embracing the Christmas spirit this year with tons of tinsel, wreaths, and eggnog. The Passenger in Shaw, however, is celebrating the anti-holiday season with a pop-up devoted entirely to Festivus, inspired by the famed Seinfeld episode.
“It kind of aligns with what we do anyways,” owner Tom Brown says. “We’re kind of anti-commercial, non-secular. So having the ability to celebrate a holiday that doesn’t tie us to religion and doesn’t tie us to, you know, the system, it just works.”
For starters, yes, there’s an aluminum pole, plus life-size cutouts of Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine. Bargoers can show off their “feats of strength”—another central tenant of the faux holiday—by posing in front of an image of a boxing ring and flexing on a pull-up bar. If you can hang for two minutes, you’ll get a free shot.
As for the “airing of grievances,” Brown says, “the savages can just write it on the bathroom wall like they usually do.” He’ll supply the Sharpie. “Or if you’re an attention whore, we’ve got a bell. You can ring the bell and say your grievances.”
Former Passenger bartender Adriana Salame Aspiazu, who previously helped design the uber-popular Miracle on Seventh Street pop-up bar, consulted on some other original touches. About 70 friends of the bar cast plaster molds of their hands giving the middle finger, which now hang from the ceiling “as a metaphorical way of raining blows on people,” Brown says.
“When you celebrate Christmas, it’s a great escape. And obviously I love Christmas,” Salame Aspiazu says. “But there’s also a side of Christmas that’s like ‘How can we celebrate with the world burning around us?'”
To that end, there’s a flame-like red and yellow color scheme, plus a fire pit shaped like a globe. The playlist is comprised of “all the worst hits from the ’90s,” Brown says. “Wouldn’t be surprised to hear Boyz II Men or Vanilla Ice.” Themed drinks include the “Festivus Miracle”—a beer and a shot—plus cocktails named after other moments from the Festivus episode like “Denim Vest” and “Fake Phone Number.”
It all culminates on Dec. 23, the actual day of Festivus.
“We’re working on a menu,” Brown says. “A meatloaf spaghetti dinner in a cup.”
The Passenger. 1539 Seventh St., NW. 202-853-3588.