Sommelier Brent Kroll shot through the ranks pouring bottles at some of DC’s fanciest restaurants. But at the 36 year-old’s own wine bars—Maxwell Park in Shaw and Navy Yard—the vibe is deliberately anti-serious (even though you’ll be sipping some seriously good wine). Now, Kroll is ready to add a third hangout to the family: Pop, a “fizz bar” near the U Street corridor that’s devoted to bubbly deliciousness. Champagne, sure, but also Cava, pét-nat, sparkling reds, effervescent whites, ciders, beers, and tasty canned drinks.
“I’m not going to shy away from a fun kombucha or seltzer—nothing is going to be off the table,” says Kroll, who’s angling for a late summer opening.
Similar to Maxwell Park, named for a park in his native Detroit, Pop’s name—and theme—harkens back to Kroll’s hometown. “Pop is what we call soda,” he says (he’s also toying with spiked soda cocktails). “Being a Detroiter, I’m nostalgic. And I like a name that reminds me of being younger, versus some obscure wine term.”
Matching the playful drinks will be a fun food menu from Maxwell Park chef Masako Morishita, who joined forces with Kroll last year after operating Japanese comfort food pop-up Otabe. Here, the Kobe native will riff on comfort food that’s often served with bubbly beverages. So yes, you’ll probably see a Champagne and kara age fried chicken pairing. While the menu isn’t set in stone, she is brainstorming dishes like an uni grilled cheese, a wagyu teriyaki burger, mis0-clam pasta, and latkes with shiso creme fraiche and caviar.
The team is also working with Navy Yard pizza spot Side Door to create thick Detroit-style pies. Instead of traditional toppings like pepperoni, Morishita plans to add accessories like mentaiko (cod fish roe), cured egg yolk, and nori. She’s also thinking about creating a take on her favorite Japanese toast with Kewpie mayo and corn.
Kroll says he’s often approached to open new wine bars in large venues, but was drawn to the 1,200 square-foot space near the 9:30 Club because it’s similar in intimate size to both Maxwell Parks. “I like small bars because you feel like you’re part of a house party and there’s good energy, even with 20 people,” he says. As for the look, Kroll says he’s going for a fun aesthetic with lots of light from a glass garage shop door.
“Sometimes people think with wine bars you need a dim basement, or make them seem European,” Kroll says. “I don’t feel the need to check those boxes.”
Pop. 2108 Vermont Ave., NW.