“Welcome to Refined H20, an immersive aquatic experience here in Los Angeles. You’ll be tasting five distinctive flavors of water today, and I’ll show your palate how to differentiate between luxurious agua and simple tap water.”
Many patrons laughed.
“My name is Ricardo Cortez and I’m a water sommelier. Few of us exist in the world. I’ll be serving your water this evening and helping your palate to discover the joys of the influences of the different waters we have to offer, helping to point out the subtle differences, and perhaps changing your perspective on water forever. With that being said, let me direct you to your first tasting of the evening.”
“The first water we have up has been imported from the Futaleufú River near Patagonia in South America. The impurities have been lifted and bottled and shipped to us just for you to enjoy at this refreshing event. Go ahead and lift your glasses and take a taste. Anyone notice any subtleties of their water’s taste?
“Yes,” a woman spoke up. “It tastes very balanced. Like not too bold and not too flat.”
“Very good,” Ricardo responded. It is a very balanced, crisp water. It’s a fine water just to drink on its own of course or a nice water to have with some crackers. While you finish your tasting and eat some oyster crackers, I’ll prepare the next water for you.” He whisked away, wide-eyed and smiling to the kitchen.
How was he getting away with this? He was charging customers 75 dollars for a half hour hour tasting in a very small, repurposed restaurant he bought for cheap - because someone was murdered here - that could hold up to 20 people in an okay-ish area of Los Angeles since people wouldn’t shell out money to go to the bad areas of Los Angeles. He was booked out for months for his six daily time slots, proclaiming on the website for it to be an “authentic experience in Los Angeles for those people who weren’t afraid to get wet.” Pretending to be a water sommelier, he just served everyone Evian in wine glasses for goodness sake and no one knew the difference! Already a big deal on Yelp, Google, and the Los Angeles scene, his water tastings were described by critics as a “can’t miss, once in a lifetime experience” and “something your taste buds can’t wait to swim in.”
In the small kitchen in the back, he prepared the next water tasting. He took Arrowhead water and poured it into a wine glass, then squeezed drops of a lemon into each glass, lying to the patrons that the next water tasting was from a small region in Spain.
“Take a sip of the water and swish it around a bit, letting it settle in your mouth before swallowing. Okay, good. Now, this time, go ahead and drink the water right away. Notice any differences.”
“It’s a very concentrated and flavorful taste for the first sip. The second sip is more subtle,” answered a woman. Many people nodded their head in agreement.
“This pairs well with tomatoes, surprisingly enough” Ricardo added. “Ive included some grape tomatoes for you to enjoy with your second tasting.”
“Delightful pairing,” a man reacted. “My mouth is very happy.”
Next up was water 3, from the “region of “Central America,” which was really just Smartwater poured discreetly from the bottle into the patron’s wine glasses.
“Am I crazy or does this taste like Smartwater?” yelled out a male guest. People laughed and countered that they could tell by the mouthfeel that it tasted sharper than Smartwater and had a distinct, energizing flavor.
“Don’t worry,” responded Ricardo. “Some of our palates still need to be developed. It’s easy to compare it to other waters we already know since we drink those waters all the time, but I can assure you these exclusive waters are meant to bring out the exquisite differences in your taste buds, some of which your palate may have never experienced before!”
“Yeah, your palate is just a baby! Give it time to grow into a real man!” another man yelled out. Laughter ensued as people sipped on their waters and learned that their tasting paired best with nuts.
“How am I ever going to be able to buy Evian again?” someone jokingly asked, with giggling all around. Ricardo smiled, chuckling internally.
Next, he went back to the small kitchen and poured tap water into some new glasses, adding a small amount of table salt to each glass.
“This next tasting is from the region of Brazil. It has a strong, salty flavor and pairs well with sweet foods, such as with a taste of the small chocolate square from a similar region in Brazil I have placed before you.”
“Pairs very nicely,” a woman said, taking a sip of the “Brazilian water” and eating the chocolate, not realizing she was sampling a special dark Hershey chocolate bar. “Are you sure none of these waters are for sale? I think this is my favorite. It’s a very bold water.”
Others agreed and a few commented, “sorry, this is too pungent for me. I prefer the refreshing taste of the water from South America” or “I like the acidity of the water from Spain.”
“Unfortunately, due to limited supply from these places and the difficulties that come with having a large quantity of these waters shipped internationally, we don’t have any available to sell. But of course I have no problem with you wanting to revisit any of our waters today. Luckily, we still have one more water to taste test.
Back in the kitchen, Ricardo took the Kirkland waters he previously bought at Costco and added a teaspoon of white sugar to each glass.
“I want everyone to swirl their glass around,” he said, passing a glass to each guest as he walked around the room. “This is special blend of sugar water from Portugal. There’s no food pairing to go with this as it’s best enjoyed on its own. As you can tell it’s very sweet. Sip it directly or hold the water in your mouth for a bit to let the sweetness fill your mouth before swallowing it.”
“What a great way to end the tasting,” a woman uttered. “It has a very strong, sweet flavor. I had no idea water could be this different and flavorful.”
“Yeah,” someone else responded. I’m not going to be able to drink simple tap water anymore, not that I ever did here in LA!”
There was laughter again.
“Such an unique and pleasant experience,” said another guest.
“My palate is forever changed!” exclaimed a woman.
Everyone stood up and clapped.
Ricardo did a slightly bow, thanked everyone for coming, and offered to let anyone revisit their favorite glass of water.
“Oh, and feel free to join me again next month. We’ll have some of the same tastings, but also a few different tastings including one from the the South American region again, the Caribbean, and a tasting that comes all the way from Australia!”
Internally he thought, “I have to remember to go to the store in the next county over and buy bottled waters in bulk of Aquafina, Fiji, and Dasani.”