Derek Brown
Co-Owner/The Passenger & Columbia Room

Derek Brown is a self-described booze nerd; his love of bartending stems as much from books, maps, and molecules as standing behind the stick. After being named Washington DC’s top bartender by Washington City Paper in 2009, Derek opened The Passenger and Columbia Room with his brother Tom to wide acclaim including Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Best New Cocktail Bars, USA Today’s Top 10 American Cocktail Lounges and GQ’s 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America. Because of the brothers different approaches, the bar is divided in two. The front part is Tom’s raucous saloon and in the back is Derek’s intimate cocktail club, Columbia Room.

Derek, nominated in 2010 for a James Beard Foundation Award, fell in love with bartending at his first job in a local Adams Morgan bar where he developed a thirst for the history behind the drinks and the precise technique that now defines his bartending style. Derek moved on to develop celebrated beverage programs as a bartender and sommelier at Washington D.C.’s finest bars and restaurants, gaining recognition as one of the top five new sommeliers in the country by Wine & Spirits magazine in 2007 and as Sommelier of the Year by DC Modern Luxury magazine in 2008, before opening The Gibson and then his celebrated Columbia Room. He was also invited to the White House to serve cocktails during the 2009 holiday parties for the First Family.

In the past year, Derek Brown has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal in an article titled A Master of Mixological Science, featured on CNN, quoted in the New York Times, lauded by Washingtonian magazine as one of Washington DCs 40 Who Shaped 2010, and listed in GQ magazine as crafting the best martini in America. You can find Derek holding seminars, behind the bar in the Columbia Room, writing for and otherwise traveling throughout the country.

Derek is also a founding member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild and on the Board of Directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail.

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