When it comes to sparkling water, if you don’t have the right bubbles, you might have troubles. Much like the texture of pimento cheese, the sweetness of cornbread, or mayonnaise brands, people can be more than particular about what carbonated hydration they prefer. In fact, our staffers diverse interests in sparkling water have sparked us to delve deeper into our brand allegiances. Here are our four waters of choice.
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Origin: Monterrey, Mexico If you’ve ever taken a Texan outside their state lines, you might notice they start to frantically gasp and flop around like a trout on a dock if they can’t find their magical Mexican mineral water. Next to Lone Star beer, Topo Chico might as well be the state’s official beverage of choice--from gas stations in Lubbock to the suites at Austin’s Hotel San Jose, these mint-tinted bottles are never far away. But lately, it’s popularity has begun to creep northward with New York and Los Angeles becoming its two biggest burgeoning markets. While many supermarkets like Publix stock individual Topos, our editors head to our closest international supermarket (Shout out to Mi Pueblo in Birmingham!) for the big boxes. What our editors say: “It’s the bubbliest and it keeps its fizz for at least 8 hours. I can open one before bed, drink half and then polish it off in the morning — still fizzy! In addition to it’s magical, everlasting bubbles, it stays cool longer than anything else — leave one in your car in the summertime, it’s still chilled. Also look for their lime and grapefruit flavors, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one.” - Zoe Gowen, Senior Homes Editor “Because Topo isn’t consistently plentiful here in Alabama, I squirrel away the 1.5-liter plastic bottles I find from trips to Texas or other events. They’re perfect for car rides, long walks, porch gatherings, or any other situation where broken glass would be a fizz kill. Also, if you haven’t made Ranch Water, a mixture of Topo, lime juice, and tequila, one of your standard summer cocktails, you’re missing out.” - Hannah Hayes, Associate Travel Editor
Origin: LaCrosse, Wisconsin La Croix may or may not be known as the Cristal of the Southern Living Test Kitchen. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that these bubbles along with the help of our Keurig coffee machine are responsible for getting Southern Living on the newsstands every month. Without it, our editors would be a lot less peppy and much more dehydrated. But La Croix’s 20 flavors from classic lemon to exotic passionfruit inspire some infighting amongst its fans. If you’ve ever watched a debate over the controversial coconut flavor, you know what we’re talking about. What our editors say: “We drink a case of La Croix a week in the summer. Lime is the best flavor - and always the one sold out at Whole Foods and Publix - though I also like lemon and grapefruit.” - Sid Evans, Editor-In-Chief “I usually buy Grapefruit La Croix because it’s so easy to pick up at the grocery store. The light, fresh flavor is also a nice treat!” - Brennan Long, Assistant Digital Editor
Mountain Valley Spring Water
Origin: Hot Springs, Arkansas This Southern spring water can count fans like Elvis Presley, Joe Louis, Secretariat, and every United States President from Calvin Coolidge to Bill Clinton (Did George W. drink Topo?). These green bottles also serve as the official water of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Sourced from a protected spring in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas within a forested preserve covering thousands of acres, Mountain Valley’s mineral content is reported to aid digestion. What our editors say: “I like to use Mountain Valley to top off my gin and tonics. Plus, the bottles have an almost Wes Anderson-y look about them. They make for great additions to your bottle tree or flower vases.” - H.H.
Origin: Vergèze, France The dispute between Perrier and San Pellegrino can create the same ire amongst friends as Alabama fans against those for Auburn. Here at Southern Living HQ, we also decidedly side with the French brand over its Italian Rival, despite the fact that they are owned by the same parent company. What our editors say: “Pellegrino goes flat in an instant and the bottle screw top has cut my finger on more than one occasion. Delicate Hands.” - Z.G. “Perrier now has those little skinny cans that somehow make you feel skinnier when you drink them.” - S.E.