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Ordering 'Bottle Water' in restaurants?! - Please watch this and say 'NO'!!

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  1. Total bull$#!+!!! there is no way you're going to convince me that city tap water beats bottled water in taste tests! That is total BS!! I have been in over the road truck driver for 20 years and and to one degree or another most municipal water supplies in this country taste like fluoridated bleach.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PotatoHouse

      depends which city
      i much prefer the montreal city water supply than most bottled water. i do have a very soft spot for IOLI sparking water from greece which is probably the most refreshing drink on the planet.

    2. I agree in part, but I don't agree with some assumptions about bottled water.

      The alternative to bottled water would be to carry around a bottle of water with me which is not always practical nor will it be cold, nor do I always know in advance when I'll be thirsty. And in some cases it is not always easy or practical to fill it up again.

      One alternative would be to get a cold bottled soda or tea or juice, so that the only difference ultimately is that the water offers me a more natural experience with fewer calories or chemical taste.

      Another question is that of thirst quenching. Most of these taste tests involve people just standing there tasting the water, not necessarily after exercising or being out on a scorching day and dying of thirst. One particularly hot summer on an active vacation, my wife and I tested out drinking tap water and various bottled waters. For us, Evian won out for thirst quenching properties by far.

      At a restaurant in the US, I won't order bottled still water, but I have ordered sparkling water. Does that count in this 'bottled water = bad' equation?

      The only time I've ordered bottled still water in a restaurant is at an upscale place in Europe. Historically, tap water in some other countries is a bit funkier tasting or has 'floaties' more that what we have in the US. I don't know to what extent that is true today.

      While staying on a farm in Europe, I wish we had brought bottled water with us; we got terribly ill from the tap water.

      My wife is from Memphis where city water is from an aquifer. When she first got to DC she noticed a severe taste difference that was off-putting.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        oh Steve - but DC's tap water is almost as bad as LA's

        1. re: hill food

          I've lived in Northern California almost all of my life, and the tap water is fine (not as good as it used to be, though). But I went to UC Santa Barbara and the water there was terrible: so nasty tasting that after I absent-mindedly took a sip from a drinking fountain I wished for some water to wash my mouth out, and so hard that I kept a jug of distilled water in the shower to rinse my hair after washing.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            SF water was fine, but in DC or LA (I keep a glass of water by the bed as I sleep) I found myself thirstier after that 3 AM dry-mouth sip. I started double filtering (PUR and Brita, one off the tap into another on the pitcher)

        2. re: Steve

          Put,a jug in the car and fill it up when in Baltimore. I love the water there.

        3. We almost always order sparkling water which cannot be had from the tap, so the bottle it is. Whenever we want still water though, we ask for tap water. I have no idea if bottled really is better and I really do not care; I have drunk tap water all my life and I am not going to stop now.

          1. It is factually accurate that in the US bottled water is subject to far less scrutiny than public water systems. In many cases, bottled water *is* just water from a public water system. So I do agree that our addiction to bottled water is to a great extent manufactured demand.

            Does it taste better? Sometimes. Usually a purchased bottle of water is cold whereas if I refill a bottle and bring it from home (which I often do), it is not cold. Cold water tastes more refreshing to most people.

            I think the tap water I get is good, especially since I use a filtered Brita system and drink it from the fridge. In restaurants I almost always drink tap although sometimes sparking water hits the spot.

            While admittedly not from a neutral source (my public water supplier), this is an interesting article:

            3 Replies
            1. re: tcamp

              Up here in Canada, tap water from even major cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto..etc all tasted better than 'plastic bottle still water'!

              1. re: tcamp

                It's something that can be balanced. Picking up a bottle on the run once in a while is convenient, but bottled still water in a restaurant is just a bonus moneymaker for them and no guarantee of better quality.

                On the other hand buying a case of bottles to stuff a home fridge with just seems wasteful to me, both in terms of unnecessary money spent and litter created.

                Something to keep in mind is that municipal water has to be constantly tested because if bad bacteria slip through, the system has to be shut down until the threat is removed. Unlike with bottled water there is no way to "recall" tap water.

                Bottlers who use municipal taps (which is common, and listed on the label) have very flexible testing expectations, and even if a batch tests positive for bacteria that batch may have been shipped, sold and drunk by the time the tests come through.

                1. re: tcamp

                  The little bottled water that I've seen stating that it's from a municipal source is also listed as filtered through a reverse osmosis filter, so, at the very least it will not only taste better but it won't be chlorinated or fluoridated. I only drink water at a restaurant if it's not chlorinated.

                2. In NYC we call tap water "City Gin."
                  I.M.H.O. it's the best water in the world.

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: Motosport

                    We do?? I drink it all the time but I never heard that phrase. Though I swear there is another endearing name for it.... on the tip of my tongue. AARRGH!

                    1. re: Motosport

                      While I agree that NYC tap water is excellent, I've never heard the phrase City Gin, and I've lived in Manhattan since 1983. I've occasionally heard someone - usually a server - call it Bloomberg Water, and before that, Giuliani Water. (Never Dinkins Water or Koch Water, though.)

                      I don't make a habit of buying bottled water, because I think it's a waste of money, and I would rather not create more trash than I have to.

                      1. re: small h

                        I'm a Brooklyn boy born in 1950. Maybe it's a generational thing.

                        1. re: Motosport

                          I will ask my mother, born in Brooklyn in 1945. Although you'd think that if she used that expression, I'd have heard it at least once or twice by now. Maybe I wasn't listening (very possible).

                      2. re: Motosport

                        Like above, I have never heard the "City Gin" expression BUT I do agree that NYC has some of the best water in the world.

                        1. re: hambone

                          According to Urban dictionary: "another name for water, especially in New York City."

                          1. re: Motosport

                            I'm not suggesting nobody has used that expression, just that I haven't been there when someone did.

                        2. re: Motosport

                          As I understand it NYC has been fiercely protective of its watershed.


                          It's sensible--clean water needs less cleaning to make it drinkable--but it probably also means that large areas of New York State can't be developed.

                          1. re: ennuisans

                            That is one of the reasons the whole fracking issue is so contentious here.

                            1. re: ennuisans

                              There's more to the NYC watershed tale than their own pr. NYC has been a terrible neighbor/steward of their own system as regards protection of local property owners in the Catskill/Delaware watershed. Their steadfast refusal to release water from the reservoirs prior to spring thaw has in many years exacerbated seasonal flooding down river and contributed to at least one horrifying death and the loss of homes. One of the tunnels used to transport water southward to the city has developed major cracks that have gone unrepaired for years and daily leak absurd amounts of water on to the property of others to the point of rendering land unusable and homes unlivable. They do have fabulous water, but they crap on the locals in the process of getting it.

                              I'd share links to articles reporting on these and other issues but unfortunately the primary local daily, the Times Herald Record of Middletown, NY requires registration and is paywall-limited to access archives.

                              1. re: ecustard

                                Is this different than the $1,200,000,000 project they began in 2010 and expect to finish in 2018?

                                I thought that was supposed to address the leak issues.

                                1. re: hambone

                                  The extreme leaks in Warwarsing, which are the ones I referenced and in one of the oldest parts of the entire system, must be repaired from deep inside the tunnel itself using breathing apparatus. Even exploring the exact nature of the work to be done and developing a specific plan is an extremely difficult proposition that has yet to occur. Meanwhile the tunnel ages and the problem worsens. That portion of the overall project is in reality nothing more than a stab in the dark at this point.

                                  1. re: ecustard

                                    True. Evacuating the water tunnels to enable the repair of leaks comes with a high risk of catastrophic tunnel collapse. There simply is no practical solution at any cost. Huge amounts of unmetered water loss - exfiltration - will persist.

                            2. re: Motosport

                              Wow..really? I grew up in NYC, moved to Long Island, and returned to Manhattan as an adult and continued to live there many years. Never heard the expression "City Gin". I will definitely say that NYC tap water is, hands down, THE best water in the world. When we moved to NJ, I used to bring empty milk gallon bottles back to the city to visit friends. I would leave with a s*itload of NYC water. Now my sons live in the City so I can still fill those bottles!

                              1. re: jarona

                                Is smuggling NYC water to NJ legal??

                                1. re: jarona

                                  And truth be told the NYC water is from the Delaware water gap .. not NYC .. its the reservoir system that ithat should be thanked.

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    I light a candle at St Patrick's every Sunday for the Delaware water gap. What can't it do!!

                                    1. re: cwdonald

                                      It's the Catskill/Delaware watershed, not the Delaware Water Gap


                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                        Yes. This needs to be addressed. NYC water does not come from the Delaware water gap - and it just does not even seem efficient that water would be brought from South to North. It mostly comes from three points in the Catskills:

                                        *The New Croton Aqueduct, completed in 1890, brings water from the New Croton Reservoir in Westchester and Putnam counties.

                                        * The Catskill Aqueduct, completed in 1916, is significantly larger than the Croton and brings water from two reservoirs in the eastern Catskill Mountains
                                        *The Delaware Aqueduct, completed in 1945 taps tributaries of the Delaware River *in the western Catskill Mountains* and provides around half of the city's water supply.

                                        It basically all comes down from the beautiful Catskill Mountains. A gifted area that has served NYC in many wonderful ways.

                                    2. re: Motosport

                                      I have never heard that phrase and I also would think that I might have at some point in my 38 years, from my 68 year old Bronx born and raised Dad. I like it....just never heard it. That said, I was rasied on LI, in Nassau, and have lived in QUeens for about fifteen years. My Dad and I have talked about municipal water at times and we both, plus my Montreal born and raised Mom, agree that NYC water tastes about as perfect as you can get drawn from a kitchen tap. Both my parents and my sister live out in Suffolk County, LI now where the water is still quite good, slightly off for my buds but nothing offensive, but nothing beats a cold glass of tap from a NYC faucet (although I admit mine comes through a filter in my fridge but I will as easily and gladly drink a pull from my tap). As a NYCer, I know where our water comes from, and I see no reason to ever order bottled water in a restaurant here, but I do pick up bottles of Poland Spring from time to time, merely for convenience's sake. I don't drink soda or juice and do not find that they quench my thirst, so a bottle of water works to serve its purpose and I gladly accept that and not really worry about where it came from.

                                      **I have tasted really crappy tap water in other parts of our country (slightly making me understand why peeps in other parts of the country love Mountain Dew soda, when I don't think I really ever see it for sale here) and assume if I had to relocate that there are some areas on the spectrum that I could accept and get used to and others at the other end of the spectrum that I do not think would ever become palatable to me. I can start this list with our otherwise lovely next door neighbors in NJ. Blech. LI gets it water from undergound sources and that has proven quite good.

                                      1. re: Justpaula

                                        I did a recent temp remodel stint at Wal-Mart in the MidWest and was amazed how fast the bottled water moved off the shelf. and we're surrounded by aquifers and springs, but the wells in the small towns...spoiled.

                                    3. When I arrived in Melbourne Florida in 1972, it was widely regarded as some of the worst tasting water in the state. It is one of the few municipalities that gets the water from a lake, not deep wells. With a lot of cattle and agricultural run off.

                                      Many bought large bottles of Kissimmee Spring Water until it was revealed that it was simply that city's tap water.

                                      With the construction of reverse osmosis plants, we now have some of the best tasting water. Because of the addition of trace elements at the plant.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                        a lot of municipal water in Florida is funky - either because of the high calcium comment, or the rather healthy dose of sulfur naturally occurring in the water table.

                                        But as IR says, most of the municipalities have been working on it -- our municipal water is significantly better now than when we left the area 5 years ago (just returned)

                                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                          Here in Dunedin we also have RO filters at the water plant. Still has to pass through the old pipes to get to your house but outside of a little chlorine taste it's pretty good and an in line filter will take care of that

                                        2. I deal with this problem by ordering bottled wine instead.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. An aside- in "The Man Who Ate Everything" Jeffrey Steingarten has a really interesting section on bottled water.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: hambone

                                              "Bottlemania" by Elizabeth Royte is a really interesting book about the bottled water industry.

                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                One of the trends I have seen in higher end restaurants in Philadelphia is for restaurants to filter their own water themselves, and offer it in bottles (some cases no up charge.) They offer both still and sparkling. Of course they do not have the same great taste of a true spring water, but it gets around the issue of bad tap water. And to top it off they are able to offer them in reusable bottles so the recycling issue goes away. I think this should be the trend of the future. http://articles.philly.com/2011-04-28...

                                                1. re: cwdonald

                                                  trP in Riverhead does that and we love it.

                                            2. Bottled water in restaurants is a scam. People complain about the mark-ups on wine, but seem to think nothing of the much larger mark-ups on water. To make it even more of a scam, the mark-up on wine is at least justifiable because of the costs of having a dedicated storage area, stocking and maintaining a cellar, keeping an updated wine list, hiring a consultant or sommelier to choose the wines, etc.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                The mark up is not a scam. Its just marketing. You can choose to pay it or not. If you don't want it don't pay for it. Markets determine what people are willing to pay. No one is being bamboozled, you get what you overpay for.

                                              2. There is a documentary on this called "Tapped" that is also worth watching. One of the CEO's at Nestle is on camera bragging that in a few years, people will be getting all of their water via bottled water. It's pretty alarming, not to mention the damage they are doing to communities.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Atomic76

                                                  I truly believe clean water is the "new oil" if one is a commodity speculator.

                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                    Water rights are big business from Colorado to the south and west. More to come.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      I hate to say it, but I think it's where the smart money goes. and not just N.A. or any single continent. already demonstrated in S.A. and parts of Africa.

                                                2. I usually order sparkling water in restaurants but, on occasions, will ask for a jug of tap water instead (I seem to prefer tap when I'm eating spicy food).