Create A Flavored Water Bar

Water Bars?

Remember the "oxygen bar?" People would go to a club, sit at the counter then grab a tube to breathe in fresh oxygen. Did you ever wonder what would "they" think of next?

Be the first to set up a fresh flavored water bar. With the boom of the flavored bottled water craze, foodservice professionals were bound to figure out a way to capitalize on the idea without having to spend tons of money on manufactured plastic bottle waters. This is, by far, one of the greenest ideas I've seen. No throw away plastic bottles! Best yet, you can recreate this idea at home or ask your caterer to create a bar for your wedding.

Hydration Station

Infused-fruit water was inspired by a little known drink called, "agua fresca", available in Latin countries. Agua fresca is made with strained fruit puree or other ingredients mixed with equal parts of water and are often sweetened with sugar. The agua fresca knockoff idea first reared its delicious head in the U.S. food industry magazines back in 2006. Currently at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Latin staff familiar with the concept are serving their fruited waters version to its student body sometimes sweetening it with flavored syrups.

Powerhouse foodservice companies like Sodexo, who provides meals to universities throughout the US, and corporations like Google, offer flavor water stations as a standard in their cafeterias. Google calls their water station, "a healthy green alternative to soda and manufactured bottled water." At one of Sodexo's water stations, students enjoy flavored waters with no additives or sweeteners. The Sodexo "hydration station" has been a hit at one major university.

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Ingredients

Create your "hydration station" at your summer wedding, outdoor family cookout or at the next hors d'oeuvres soiree. Use your favorite big container of unflavored bottled water. Here are a couple of tips:

  • some fruits work better than others - if the fruit will disintegrate in water don't use it
  • put the fruit right in the water - don't try to separate it from the water
  • cut the fruits in big wedges or slices

Citrus fruits are the best to use but be sure you use what's in season. Purchase at your local farmer's market or find the produce wholesaler in your area. If you live in Maryland, visit www.lmproduce.com at their Jessup warehouse. You'll need to set up an account with your Sales Tax ID number but you can pay cash right on the spot and get anything you want all year round!

Best fruits to use:

  • limes
  • lemons
  • grapefruits
  • pummelos (taste like candied almonds)
  • oroblancos/melogolds (peachlike)
  • orlando tangelos (pineapple/tangy orange marmalade finish)
  • dancy tangerines (watermelon flavor/tart plum like finish)
  • royal mandarins (robust spicy mango after taste)
  • minnesota tangelos (lingering vanilla/fig overtones, floral lemonde after taste)
  • fairchild tangerines (currant pineapple flavor, honeysuckle aftertaste)
  • moro oranges (rich tart plum flavor, wild strawberry after taste)
  • satsuma mandarins (tropical fruit flavor warm cinnamon spice after taste)
  • clementine mandarins (crisp apricot nectar flavor, rich raisiny after taste)
  • honey mandarins (juicy cherry/passionfruit flavors)
  • cara cara navels (cranberry appeal cherry flavored undertones)
  • navel oranges (tart vanilla flavor finish)
  • valencia oranges (sweet and tart orange flavors)

If you must flavor your waters visit my favorite flavor syrup Monin http://moninstore.com/

Equipment

Take a look at some of the options you have for your flavored water station. Check with places like Target or Sams Club for inexpensive clear jar beverage servers with spouts. These containers may only be 2-3 gallons. The first four beverage containers shown are all from Sam's Club. If they are not available in the store, order online. The last, more elaborate container may be found at your local party rental store.

Visit the following links for price information:

Experiment With Recipes

Have fun making your own flavored waters. Try:

  • cucumbers with mint
  • apple spiced with cinnamon sticks
  • spearmint and peppermint
  • lime and mint
  • grapefruit and orange

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