I’ve lived in Los Angeles now for over 20 years. And have learned over time that the L.A. in that Steve Martin ’90s movie L.A. Story is not real. At least for the most part. But occasionally, something pops up here and makes me think, “Seriously, L.A.?” Like this: Next week Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA will be launching a new water menu. Yes, a special 45-page menu featuring 20 varietals of water from around the world, handpicked by their resident water sommelier. Martin Riese, the water somm AND general manager, got certified after a weeklong class in Germany and now he’s trying to show Angelenos why they should put down their glass of free tap water and consider spending $20 on a 0.75-liter bottle of water.
Here are his reasons on why we should take good drinking water seriously:
- Water from different countries tastes different from one another: “Terroir affects water in the same way that it affects wine, and thus, flavor profiles can be detected from country to country.” So if you can’t make up your mind about which fancy water to get, Ray’s and Stark Bar offers a tasting menu for $12.
2. “Water has a significant impact on the way we taste food, just as with wine and spirits. We are already accustomed to pairing food with wine or beer, but many people don’t know that water is just as important to the entire dining experience.” Yep, at Ray’s and Stark Bar, the staff has been trained to suggest water pairings to complement Executive Chef Kris Morningstar’s Mediterranean-inspired menu, just like they would with wine.
It can improve your cocktail: “The taste of water can be used to bring the cocktail to the next level. For example, the same cocktail made with a low mineral water will be more likely smooth, with a high mineral water you will add some spice to it.” (Alcademics)
Tap water sucks: “‘People don’t understand that water has a taste,’ he says. ‘The problem with tap water is that it’s so heavily chlorinated, so all you’re tasting is the chlorine.'” (Daily Meal)
Not just any bottled water will do: “‘Fiji is more in the smooth area and very light when I’m tasting it,’ said Riese. ‘Voss has more of a bitter taste to it. Right away I’m getting it on my palate when I drink the Voss. But Fiji, I don’t have that.'” (LA Times)
Let it be noted that I had been invited to a media tasting of Ray’s and Stark Bar’s water menu but didn’t go so I was never enlightened as to why anyone would spend good cocktail money on water. I will say, however, that last night when I was drinking Highland spring water alongside my Macallan 17-Year Sherry Oak at Ten Pound I couldn’t help but notice that, yes, this Scottish water was distinctively delicious compared to the usual L.A. tap.
BUT would I spend money on agua just to please my palate? No. There are so many better, funner, tastier ways to do that, as this entire blog can attest to. But, I probably would bring out-of-town visitors to Ray’s and Stark Bar to check out what crazy thing L.A. is doing.