Those who have been frequent customers of bartender Tom Brown over the years have often been on the receiving end of his affection for rum-based drinks. That love displayed itself in punches featuring rum from the many small producers scattered throughout the Caribbean. So it was no surprise that he would partner with Paul Ruppert for the rum-heavy Hogo, which opens its doors tonight.
Hogo is an abbreviated form of the French term haut goût that describes the "high taste" or funk that comes from rotting meat, but is also used for the untamed funk of rums with lower distillation proofs. It's best exemplified in rhum agricole and its sugarcane-based cousin cachaca.
Originally Brown planned to have 30-40 rums on hand, but that quickly rose to a collection of 75. Many of these are incorporated into tiki classics like the Singapore Sling, and Ti' Punch. The menu also champions other less-celebrated South and Central American spirits like mezcal and pisco, as well as the more popular tequila. And for those who enjoyed the large punch bowls at The Passenger's Tiki Tuesdays, you can choose from a Volcano Bowl (Lemon Hart Rum, Appleton Estate Rum, El Dorado Gold Rum, maple syrup, grapefruit, lime) or They're All Bastards (Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Virginia Gentleman Bourbon, Velvet Falernum, brown sugar syrup, lime, orange, Angostura Bitters, Blenheim's Ginger Beer).
Hogo is part of the Temporary Works, project, located in the back room. With a classic diner-style counter and stick-on letter menu boards not unlike those at Ben's Chili Bowl, the space is meant to serve as a short-term test kitchen for chefs to have a little fun. The frequent rotations are sure to make Hogo a regular stop for those who want to try the latest menu. The opening month features Passenger chef Javier Duran with a fine mix of classic Hawaiian mix plate lunches, spam musubi, and ramen.
Check out the bar's interior, particularly its vivid artwork, in the gallery above.