Caviar on a spoon
"Caviar" by geishaboy500, licensed under CC BY 2.0 Credit: "Caviar" by geishaboy500 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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The partners behind Apéro, a wine and cocktail bar specializing in Champagne and caviar, aims to be the place people start or end their evenings out. That’s why Elli Benchimol, Felicia Colbert, and Christian Johnston chose to name their bar for the French word for the time before a meal when apéritifs are sipped. Happy hour, in other words.

Located at 2622 P St. NW in Georgetown, near Stachowski’s Market, Apéro plans to open for small private event bookings in mid-October. Depending on where the District is in the phased reopening process, Benchimol says she hopes to open to the public in January following whatever guidelines are in place. The address has previously housed 2622 Cafe and the After Peacock Room. It can seat 42 people inside and another 30 on a garden patio.

“It’ll have a comfortable, living room kind of feel,” Benchimol says. “And you have three somms waiting on you.” She and Johnson most recently worked as sommeliers downtown and Colbert held the same title at A Rake’s Progress before it closed inside the LINE Hotel earlier this year due to the pandemic. 

Look for a wine list of predominantly French wines, including grower Champagnes and vintage rosé. (Grower Champagnes are produced by the estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown.) There will be some domestic picks selections from Oregon and California, too. Benchimol says they had fun converting a two-story dumbwaiter on the property into a wine cellar. Classic cocktails will also be on the drink menu.

Apéro’s food selection will include small bites like “little fried things” and some salads. Johnson, who as a culinary background, will execute the menu. Customers will be able to add caviar to any dish or order at least five varieties of caviar on its own. 

“It’s a nice place for everybody to come grab a snack and a drink,” Benchimol says. “It sounds pretentious because of the Champagne and caviar, but it’ll be very approachable and still elegant. I want people to learn more about eclectic wines and grower Champagnes not from the big-name houses. It’s not, ‘Come in and spend $300.’” 

Sure, but it’s also not the pizza, sandwiches, bagels, and burgers Washingtonians have been craving throughout the pandemic because they’re easy on the wallet, comforting during tough times, and travel well for takeout or delivery. Can Apéro prove there’s still a market for what some consider the finer things in life? 

Apéro, 2622 P St. NW;

“Caviar” by geishaboy500 is licensed under CC BY 2.0