The nation’s most acclaimed champagne bar, Pops for Champagne, 601 N State St., is honoring its 40th Anniversary in Chicago this September 2022. To celebrate with locals and visitors alike, Pops is offering guests a rotating $40 pour of unique champagne, not typically served by the glass, such as 2006 Pierre Moncuit Cuvée Elizabeth, 2008 Pierre Paillard La Grande Récolte, and 2013 Vintage Louis Roederer, throughout the year, as well as reopening their underground speakeasy, Watershed, on Thursday, August 25th. Since opening its doors in 1982, Pops has become a staple in the city, having served over 900,000 bottles of champagne to hit 1,000,000 bottles served by the end of the year.
“We couldn’t be prouder to celebrate 40 years in Chicago with our team and loyal patrons. Our goal has always been to create an inviting, approachable space, and this achievement has solidified the storied history of Pops,” said Craig Garofalo, co-owner of Pops for Champagne. “Throughout the decades, Pops has become not only a destination for celebration but a space dedicated to exposing and educating our patrons on new and unique beverage experiences. With Pops, and the reopening of Watershed this year, we’re happy to continue to provide an escape in the heart of the city.”
In 2018, Craig Garofalo and Andy Poch, both Chicago hospitality industry veterans, acquired Pops for Champagne and Watershed. Originally opened in 1982 in Lakeview, Pops for Champagne moved to the vibrant River North neighborhood in 2004. Over the years, Pops has expanded the champagne menu to offer a larger, more concentrated selection, aiming to represent smaller producers from the Champagne region of France.
Today, Chicago’s most elegant wine bar and one of the nation’s few dedicated champagne bars offers over 100 different champagne selections and introduces new selections on a weekly basis. Pops also offers sparkling, craft, and spirit-free cocktails, wine, beer, and a delectable bar snacks menu, from East Coast Oysters and Cheese & Charcuterie to Shishito Peppers and a Trio of Macarons.
Originally established in 2010, Watershed, a speakeasy-style lounge tucked beneath Pops for Champagne, has undergone extensive renovations and reopened on Thursday, August 25th. Sitting just feet from the Chicago Red Line tracks, the restorations to the underground venue, built in the 1890s, have honored original details of the space, including a historic stone wall and custom woodwork.
Watershed’s wooden booths have been refinished and remodeled, new banquets have been installed, and the original custom wooden tabletops have been rehabbed. Custom wooden glass racks and display shelves have been installed throughout the bar, and wooden cabinets have been reimagined as display pieces, adding to the warm, inviting interior. Watershed also features new paint, floors, furniture, back bar mirrors, in addition to an enhanced sound system and lighting.
The reimagined Watershed will introduce a ‘seasonal’ cocktail menu where every season focuses on a different television show, paying homage to the meaning of “watershed” in broadcasting, which is the time of day after which programming aimed towards mature or adult audiences is permitted. With the belief that a good bartender should be a guide, not a gatekeeper, Watershed Beverage Director, Logan Brown, has created the inventive new menu, kicking off “Season 1” with cocktails inspired by the fan-favorite show, Community.
The menu includes Episode 2: Advanced Safety Features (0% ABV) with Blackberry, Wine, and Lemon; Episode 12: Social Psychology (27% ABV) a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Espresso Martini made with Vodka, Coffee, Cereal, and Oat Milk, and Episode 9: Remedial Chaos Theory (28% ABV) with Pepperoni Combos, Malort, Thyme, Tomato, Vinegar, Bitter, and Port. Watershed will also serve beer, wine, and liquor from all over the world, representing passionate farmers, vintners, distillers, and brewers.
Every cocktail, beer, and wine will list its ABV so guests can decide to order anything from non-alcoholic to overproof drinks to suit their mood or preference. Guests are also invited to explore the rare spirits list, which is delivered via table side beverage cart. Pops for Champagne is open from 3 – 11 p.m. Monday – Wednesday, 3 p.m. – 12 a.m. Thursday – Friday, 1 p.m. – 12 a.m. Saturday, and 3 – 10 p.m. Sunday. Watershed is open from 5 – 11 p.m. Monday – Wednesday and 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. Thursday – Saturday.