If tapwater leaves you flat, home carbonation devices will add fizz to your drink and loonies to your pocket.
WASTE NOT | Last summer I had dinner at the home of a stylish and gracious friend whose table setting included a tall glass pitcher filled with tapwater, ice cubes and slices of lime. It was refreshing in every way: simple, elegant and thirst-quenching. For a more casual presentation, another friend recycles the rubber-stoppered bottles from French lemonade, filling them with tapwater that she keeps chilled in the fridge. You can buy similar stoppered bottles without the lemonade (Bella Vita in Park Royal has attractive ones in green or blue from Maxwell & Williams for $5.95).
The advantages of tapwater are well known—better regulated and better for you than bottled water, better for the environment, really really local—yet having imported bottled water on the table has become almost as essential as knowing what wine to serve. Perhaps it’s the bubbles. I’m not a fan of fizz myself, but many of those who are have been turning to home carbonation devices.
2 Good Home Carbonation Systems
The classic tool for carbonating water is the soda siphon or seltzer bottle, a symbol of prewar sophistication right up there with the cigarette holder but without the health issues. It is a hand-held glass or metal bottle using small metal canisters of carbon dioxide to create effervescent water that the user can shoot out as needed. Bella Vita sells brushed aluminum soda siphons for about $75. A package of 10 metal cartridges filled with CO2 is about $8, with each cartridge carbonating a litre of water. Williams Sonoma also carries soda siphons.
Countertop carbonation systems are also simple, proven technology with SodaStream invented in 1903 and popular in Britain until the 1980s. Initially pricier than soda siphons—$169 to $299 in Canada—they produce sparkling water for less in the long run. SodaStream uses large cylinders of carbon dioxide that carbonate up to 60 litres of water. The first cylinder costs $35, with subsequent cylinders refilled for about $20. Each machine comes with two one-litre bottles, glass or plastic, depending on the model. You fill the bottle with cold water, screw it onto the SodaStream and crank the lever two or three times, depending on the amount of fizz you want, to release carbon dioxide into the water. You then remove the bottle, screw on the cap, invert it two or three times to mix in the bubbles and you have a litre of fresh bubbly.
SodaStream offers a range of flavourings from cola (a bit disappointing) to lemon-lime drops (lovely), but the water with just the bubbles has a fresh, natural sweetness and no minerals, sodium or other additives. —Felicity Stone
Photo: C. Phaisalakani