You could hear the gasp all throughout Austin. Topo Chico — the essential thirst-quencher of every cosmic cowboy, hipster, and Westlake soccer mom in town — was bought by Coca-Cola this week. Suddenly, the mineral water brand seemed, well, just a little less cool. Stay calm: There’s no need to get your high-waisted flares in a bunch when these five local alternatives have just as much sparkle.
The newest kid on the block, the Austin company’s cans are sure to be a hit with both Topo and LaCroix drinkers. Available in three flavors — plain, ruby red grapefruit, and key lime — the Big Swig has a less aggressive effervescence than some of its competitors, making it an ideal mixer in cocktails. See for yourself at Stay Gold, where the bartenders are using it in a tequila cocktail with Ancho Reyes liqueur, or at Hole in the Wall, where it is used in a refreshing paloma.
The soda alternative is filtered through Texas limestone to give the sparkling water local terroir, but it doesn't just take from the land. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to help secure the future of our state's recreational areas and waterways. The flagship plain can will be on shelves any moment now, followed shortly by flavors made with native Texas fruit.
Richard’s Happy Water
If canned fizzies don’t measure up in your hand to Topo's slim bottles, give Richard’s Happy Water a try. The carbonated rain water (or “cloud juice," as owner Richard Heinichen refers to it) uses reverse osmosis for a clean, light drinkability. Unlike Topo Chico, there’s not a trace of salt or any other mineral in the bottle, but the end product is so refreshing you won’t miss it.
Waterloo Sparkling Water
Having helped launch Deep Eddy Vodka, Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling, and Mighty Swell Sparkling Cocktails, the co-founders of Waterloo know a thing or two about the beverage market, so it’s no wonder they set their sights on the zero proof game, too. The Texas limestone-filtered drink went big with its Whole Foods launch — simultaneously launching seven different flavors: original, black cherry, watermelon, coconut, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.
The fruit-infused line has been producing still waters for more than two years, but this year they branched out into bubbles. Just as with the original line, the main draw is the subtle, sophisticated flavor. We especially like the grapefruit peach and the lemon ginger. Both are lovely with a few drops of bitters or as an extra bit of buzz in a spritz.