Water is serious business at Ray and Stark’s Bar at LACMA

September 29, 2014

America’s only certified water sommelier says he traveled around the world for two years to curate a refined water menu worthy of his approval. 

(General Manager and renowned water sommelier, Martin Riese, explains what to look for while tasting different types of water.)

(General Manager and renowned water sommelier, Martin Riese, explains what to look for while tasting different types of water.)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

“This is the most important beverage on this planet,” says Martin Riese, certified water sommelier and general manager of Ray and Stark’s Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Our water menu highlights the value of water. I think it helps us to appreciate its importance especially since we are experiencing California’s largest drought.”

Riese speaks with a heavy German accent, but with a good command of the language his passion for water still shines through.

He was able to transform his profound knowledge of drinking water into a business-savvy endeavor. Since introducing his signature water menu, “water sales have been up 500 percent.”

The Patina Restaurant Group, Los Angeles’ premiere catering group, picked up on the programs success and has already implemented variations on the menu at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall with success.

Riese spent two years traveling around the world to curate a refined menu including a variety of waters he deemed worthy of his approval. 20 different bottlers from all over the world made it onto the final list.

In the most simplistic terms, the taste of water is defined by a unit of measurement called Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The combination of minerals dissolved into water defines its flavor profile. Otherwise, pure water is technically tasteless.

Three brands were personally chosen by Riese for a water tasting with TDS levels ranging from 40 to over 3000.

water 2

Voss Artesian Water ($10 per bottle): With a low TDS level of 40, the water is practically tasteless. It’s great as a reference point when trying to identify the flavors in other waters.

water 3

Iskilde ($12 per bottle): When shaken, Iskilde will turn white, which is actually a product of its naturally occurring high oxygen content. With a TDS level of 400, its flavor is slightly more complex, but the oxygen levels make the water actually feel lighter in your mouth. Iskilde is bottled in Denmark.

water 4

Vichy Catalan ($12 per bottle): This brand is particularly difficult to find in the U.S. but far more common in its native Spain. It is naturally carbonated and has a TDS of approximately 3000. With a salty flavor profile, it doesn’t feel as hydrating as the others.

Ray and Stark’s Bar will be hosting an introductory Water 101 class starting Nov. 17. You can learn more about it at http://www.patinagroup.com/rays-water-101-classes/


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