Food

A Classy Cocktail Bar Serving Gin, Caviar, and Potato Chips Opens on Capitol Hill

The Wells is the latest venue from the team behind La Collina and the Duck & the Peach.

The Wells, a classy gin cocktail bar, opens on Capitol Hill. Photograph courtesy of the Wells.

Some places to try to do a little bit of everything. Restaurateur Hollis Silverman takes the opposite approach. The former Chief Operating Officer of José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup now focuses on hyper-seasonal, curated menus at her six month-old Cal-French restaurant the Duck & the Peach, and its adjoining Italian spot La Collina, which just opened last week. Now, Silverman’s team is homing in on their final concept in the 700 Penn building near Eastern Market—and it’s the most specialized (and luxurious) yet. The Wells, a classy cocktail bar serving gin, caviar, and potato chips, opens tonight.

The 34-seat drinking den, outfitted in shades of green and copper, is led by two bartenders—Ashley Havens and Philip Keath—who each spent years at Rose’s Luxury. The duo has created a menu of all-gin cocktails that lean bright, floral, refreshing, and/or savory for summer. Take, for example, the Tea Time with jasmine, orgeat (almond syrup) and lemon, or the Garden with tomato, olive brine, and Chambéry (a dry, floral vermouth). Of course, being a gin bar, there’s a house g&t—partly inspired by Silverman’s time with Andrés. The drink is served Spanish-style in a large goblet with loads of citrus, lemon verbena, juniper, and Fever Tree tonic. Down the line, the team hopes to introduce a gin-and-tonic cart that’ll rove around the bar.

Rendering courtesy of the Wells.

In addition to house cocktails, guests can customize their own drinks, or try one of the many sipping gins from small or lesser known producers. And if you don’t like gin? Drink Champagne! The rest of the menu includes bubbles by the glass or a splurge $400 bottle of Krug, a Chimay beer, or a red or white Burgundy. Potato chips come in two forms: as is ($5) or with creme fraiche and Ossetra caviar ($115).

“We’re not super fussy here,” Silverman says.

All three venues, which Silverman operates with business partner and Eastbanc developer Anthony Lanier, have been in the making since 2018. Construction delays and the pandemic slowed things down—and the team has been taking their time opening, partly due to staffing shortages. Executive chef Katarina Petonito, formerly of St. Anselm, helms the kitchen at the Duck & the Peach. It’s currently open five days a week, breakfast through dinner, with full indoor and patio seating. Petonito also makes fresh pastas (think sweet-corn tortellini with goat butter) and breads for La Collina, as well as family-style entrees like whole grilled branzino or a heritage pork chop milanese. The Italian restaurant is open Friday through Sunday. And Thursday night—that’s for the Wells. Expect hours to expand later, but for now, that’s the only night it’s open. 

The Wells. 727 C St., SE

 

 

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.