Whether you’re in a foreign land, tired of sugary soda, or just feeling fancy, bottled water is a great thing. But then, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, it tastes like you’re drinking rainwater straight off the Brooklyn sidewalk in front of a homeless shelter. There are degrees of bottled waters, and we’re here to walk you through them.
Worse Than Gutter Water: Arrowhead, Aquafina, Dasani, Poland Spring, Nestle, Crystal Geyser, Store Brands
All these brands start life as normal municipal tap water, then get filtered through what must be an overweight and eczema-ridden teenager’s sweaty socks. Arrowhead tastes like cement gravel, Aquafina and Dasani both have a greasy quality to them, and store brands taste like straight tap water at best. Basically, if it’s sold in giant 24-packs steer clear if you love your taste buds.
Decent Mid-Level: Fiji, smartwater, Evian
In a pinch, these will do you fine. Fiji is a step away from being in the “only good enough for plants” category above, as it is sickly sweet and so oily that it coats the mouth. Fiji is my last resort water. Evian and smartwater however are solid waters with both a pleasurable mouth-feel and no describable taste. If you’re not a bottled water drinker already, these are a good place to start your journey.
Best in Class: Acqua Panna, Voss, Anything You’ve Never Heard Of
Acqua Panna is my jam. This is by far the best bottled water that’s widely available and my go-to choice whenever I find it. It tastes just like water should: absolutely nothing. It is like swallowing the void, and it refreshes your tongue and throat for the another bite or the next mile. Voss meanwhile has the amazing ability to feel colder than it has any right being. It is like they’ve bottled liquid cold fusion and given it Norwegian style. Either of these are great beverages, but know going in that to try one of these means never being able to drink the store brands ever again.
And of course, there are all number of crazy glass-bottled wonders from the virgin Ozarks or melted icebergs that run $10 an ounce that are quite good. They are fun to try, but so rare and expensive as to make the pleasure of drinking them not the water but their very rarity and expense. I generally default to tap water in a restaurant before I spring for one of these bottles-with-a-backstory.