Tap, Bottled, Sparkling, or Still

Image via stockxchange | user Ale Paiva

Image via Free Images (formerly stockxchange) | user Ale Paiva

Even though I do sometimes crave something with flavor, water is what I drink at work, at home, and most of the time when we go out for a meal. As long as it’s cold, I’m happy enough and most of the time the general city tap water doesn’t bother me. We use water bottles at home, but just refill them from the tap to have on hand for easy-to-grab hydration.

At least that was the old way.

The first weekend in Thomasville we went out for Chinese food and, per my usual, I ordered water. Even if I wanted something else, most places don’t have decaf tea and the sodas all contain high fructose corn syrup, so water is pretty much my only option in many places, unless I order something alcoholic. Anyway, I was a bit dismayed that the water tasted really bad–not quite like sulfurous well water I’ve experienced back in Louisiana, but there was a definite flavor to this water and it wasn’t the kind of taste I usually go for. And very few places we’ve been to since then offer bottled water as an option, even if you’re willing to pay.

Once we’d settled the pipe repairs and turned the water back on, it was apparent that it wasn’t just an issue at the restaurant, but at our new home as well. While we were just doing simple over-nights, it was easy enough to just grab bottled water, though I did cringe at the waste. Now that we’ve moved in, though, keeping up with chilled bottled water in a fridge already packed with other food is a bit tougher.

First we added a Brita pitcher to at least allow us to filter tap water for drinking. The first time I made supper I realized that any cooking requiring water–like making rice or pasta–would also need to use filtered water to avoid adding an odd taste to our meals. That has the potential to suck through a single pitcher’s worth pretty quickly, not giving us enough time to chill more to drink with the meal. So for now we’re using a combo of bottled water and the filter.

Why not use a filter attachment to our faucet? Every one I’ve enountered in the past has been slow to the point of tedium, so that was out from the start as far as I was concerned.

Instead, for the long term, the plan is to install a whole-house filter where the water line enters the house to filter out any sediments, etc. and then a reverse-osmosis filter under the sink to filter for taste. This way we’ll be able to go back to using tap-filled water bottles for our usual drinking water and also be able to cook with it without worrying out the drinking supply. And different under-sink filters have different filtering rates, so we’re going to make sure to get the fastest rate available so we’re not waiting forever to fill a pot or kettle.

Just because tap water has always been our default and will be again, soon, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good bottle of sparkling water from time to time.

I used to think I hated mineral water: it always tasted flat to me (ironic, right?) and the bubbles were (for lack of a better word) pushy and obnoxious. Then I ordered a bottle of Pellegrino while on vacation last fall and the finer bubbles and superior taste convinced me that all mineral water is not created equal. Even the flavored Perrier I’d acquired a taste for couldn’t compare in taste or texture. I was smitten!

It’s still reserved as an occasional treat, mainly because paying for fizzy water still seems a bit of an extravagance, but if I’m someplace that has it and I’m going to have to pay for bottled water, I might was well have a little fun with it, right?

I was always amazed at how finicky people could be about something as simple as water, but now I’m starting to understand. I’ll still prefer the convenience of tap water, even if it’s less than palatable all the time, for the long term. At least we have the option to spend a couple hundred dollars on filtration systems, and for that I’m grateful.

Review | SodaStream Fizz

Our SodaStream Fizz fits right into our home bar setup.

Our SodaStream Fizz fits right into our home bar setup.

I’m not much of a soda drinker (even before going Low-FODMAP removed all high fructose corn syrup from my diet), but Todd’s daily Coke Zero habit would rival any coffee drinker’s. It’s his caffeine of choice and while I would prefer he not drink so much of it, he’s a grown man and it’s his one vice.

At around $6 per case, that’s about a quarter per can and, at his usual rate of 4 cans a day, $1 per day. At least it’s cheaper than a Starbucks addiction, right?

Still, I’d hear about the SodaStream year before last but I wasn’t sure if he’d really use it. Just before Christmas, though, I decided it was worth the gamble and settled on the SodaStream Fizz in black for part of his present this year. Of course I got him a bottle of their Cola Zero syrup, too, just to see how he liked it.

Putting aside the initial investment of the machine, bottles, and a second CO2 tank as a back-up, here’s the way his daily consumption breaks down:

At $4.96 per bottle, each bottle makes 12 liters ($0.41/Liter), and Todd makes 2 a day, so $0.83 a day. The CO2 containers cost 29.99 new, but if you take them to a store that exchanges the used canister, you only pay the difference, about $16.02 at our local Wal-Mart.  Each canister (of the size we buy–they come in different capacities) makes 60L, so $0.27 per fizz and we’re still up to only $1.36 per day. Of course, how many liters you really get out of a canister depends on how fizzy you want your soda. The Fizz has a level indicator that not only tells you when it’s time to change the CO2, but how fizzy you’ve just made your drink: light, medium, and heavy.

Our Fizz with my fresh bottle of Tonic Water

Our Fizz with my fresh bottle of Tonic Water

I think Todd likes his extra-fizzy, so we’re not really saving anything after all.

Where we do save is storage, clutter, and recycling. We have 3 of the 1L bottles that are good for about 3 years, and Todd takes 2 of them to work each day. The third gets used when I want to make something or if he wants some rootbeer or other flavors on the spare evening we’re not drinking water. They take up no more room in the fridge than our water bottles we refill and chill on a regular basis, but we only put out about half the recycling any more. That’s kind of nice in the grand scheme of things.

Other things we like about SodaStream is that there’s no cord to plug it into the wall so it can go anywhere, and there really are plenty of flavor options available–and none of them contain the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup, which means I can have a soda whenever I feel the urge. That’s a nice change of pace.

What I don’t like about the SodaStream is that the syrups do use a bunch of other sugar substitutes that I’m not sure are all that better, nutritionally speaking, than HFCS, but at least they don’t trigger an IBS episode. I’m a smart girl, though, and I figured I might be able to make my own syrups with regular ingredients and sugar–after all, that’s what they used to do at the old fashioned soda fountains, right? And I’ve got a copy of Fix the Pumps with plenty of recipes inside.

Turns out, though, I didn’t quite have to go that far: SodaStream must have been hearing a lot of the above because I’ve noticed they’ve come out with a “sparkling natural” line in limited flavors that does use regular ol’ sugar and other recognizable ingredients. Now I can have ginger ale again with very little hassle! The downside (and this is SUCH a good example of why the food industry uses sugar substitutes and how it is NOT cheaper to eat healthier) is that the bottles of Sparkling Natural hold 25.4 fl oz (compared to the 16.9 fl oz of the other syrups), cost twice as much, but only make half as many liters of soda. This is, quite literally, the price we pay for real food, even in soda form.

The syrup display at our local Wal-Mart.

The syrup display at our local Wal-Mart.

But the ginger ale is tasty, and I plan to pick up some of their Orange Pineapple Sparkling Natural syrup since the sample flavor pack that came with the Fizz included the most awesome Orange soda we’ve tasted. I’ve also tried out there Tonic mix and while I’m not crazy about the sugar-substitute aftertaste, I plan to pick up some .5L bottles for those times when I need a bit of fizz for a cocktail but don’t want to waste (or drink) an entire liter before it goes flat.

Even if Todd opts to go back to canned soda (of course, the way prices keep going up, that may not prove a savings for much longer), the convenience factor and just the fun of the variety make me not regret this purchase at all. And, hey, if you just like your water fizzy instead of still, this is a great way to get it and they even have a pretty glass carafe for just this sort of thing.


I received no free product in exchange for this review, I’m just a happy customer/gift-giver. The links in this post, though, they’re all Amazon affiliate links. If you should choose to purchase anything by clicking on one of those links or anything else having followed the link and clicked around a bit, I’ll earn a small referral fee (I think it’s around 4%) that will go towards my monthly hosting fees.

Have I Got a Dill For You!


As promised, this week in Alphatinis is a savory sipper perfect for hot summer days.


Pickled Puppy Martini

Pickled Puppy

I knew, when I (loosely) planned out this series, that D would have something to do with dill. A dill cocktail practically cries out for gin–it all but hops over and into the bottle just to be closer to the already herbalicious spirit. So a dill-infused gin it would be but then! Then I remembered this really nice cucumber-mint mojito with cucumber-infused gin I had once at Bonefish (whose cocktail menu I’ve found lacking in the past) so I decided to throw cucumber into the mix.

Infusing liquor is a fairly simple process: put your fruits or veggies or herbs* into a seal-able glass container, cover with base alcohol of choice and let sit until ready. It does, however, take time. I’m glad I started the infusion 5 days before it was time to try out the cocktail. In about 2 days the dill had made it’s mark but it took the other 3 for the cucumbers to really join the party and mellow the whole mix out. (For the curious I used half a cucumber, sliced, and one very fluffy sprig of dill to about 8 oz of dry gin.)

But what would I pair this very interesting gin with? I didn’t want to go too sweet, obviously, but I didn’t want it to be like drinking pickle juice, either!

Thinking about the gin drinks I enjoy–gin & tonic, gin & cranberry, gin & grapefruit–oh, wait, a twist on a Greyhound might be just the thing. And I happened to have a bottle of Pamplemousse rose Perrier on the shelf as well as pink grapefruit juice. Sold!

Pickled Puppy

2 oz Cucumber-Dill Gin
1 1/4 oz Pink Grapefruit-flavored Sparkling Water
splash of Pink Grapefruit Juice
garnish: cucumber, dill

Combine gin, water and juice over ice in a mixing glass and stir like a dog chasing his tail. Once thoroughly chilled, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

I used a long strip of fresh cucumber threaded with dill and a bamboo skewer as a garnish but you could also use some of the cucumber rounds from the infusion. Keep in mind, though, that those cucumbers will be super-potent.

This cocktail turned out so well, my take on the more traditional Greyhound, that I’m keeping the infused gin on hand to make more this weekend–it’s a fabulous, low-impact summer cooler.


*Yes, I know you can infuse with proteins, too, but I just don’t see the point. Fat-washing doesn’t really appeal to me.

No clue, yet, what our e-themed cocktail will be. Guess we’ll all be surprised next week!