A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 06, 2013
Water Sommelier (Water Steward)

A “sommelier” (or “wine steward") is a trained wine professional; at a fine restaurant, the sommelier can offer help in wine and food pairings. A “water sommelier” (or “:water steward") specializes in the selection of waters instead of (or in addition to) the selection of wines. The term “water sommelier” has been cited in print since at least September 2001, when the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park announced that it would have one. Michael Mascha, author of Fine Waters: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters (2006), has been called a “water sommelier.” In 2013, Ray’s & Stark Bar (located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) announced that it would have a water sommelier.

Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! cable television show. Season 1, Episode 7. “Feng Shui/Bottled Water” (aired March 7, 2003), had Penn say, “Instead of a wine steward we created the world’s first water steward.”

Wikipedia: Sommelier
A sommelier (/ˈsɒməljeɪ/ or /sʌməlˈjeɪ/; French pronunciation: ​[sɔməlje]), or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. The role is more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter.

The most important work of a sommelier is in the areas of wine procurement, wine storage, wine cellar rotation, and expert service to wine consumers.

A sommelier may also be responsible for the development of wine lists, and for the delivery of wine service and training for the other restaurant staff. Working along with the culinary team, they pair and suggest wines that will best complement each particular food menu item. This entails the need for a deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits and other beverages work in harmony. A professional sommelier also works on the floor of the restaurant and is in direct contact with restaurant patrons. The sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron.

In modern times, a sommelier’s role may be considered broader than working only with wines, and may encompass all aspects of the restaurant’s service, with an enhanced focus on wines, beers, spirits, soft-drinks, cocktails, mineral waters, and tobaccos.

New York (NY) Times
Commercial Property
Battery Park: After Four Years, Ritz-Carlton Returns to New York

Published: September 2, 2001
GUESTS at the new Ritz-Carlton hotel at Battery Park who have jet lag from hopscotching across continents can call for a bath butler to draw a personalized tub — featuring scented oils for women or a cigar for Wall Street capitalists — for them to relax in.

This may be carrying the notion of individualized service to excess, but the point is well made. The company, the recipient of two Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards, will go to almost any length to coddle its high-paying guests. The Battery Park hotel will also offer the services of a water sommelier, an expert in bottled waters. Those who ask for it will even be able to have their drinks chilled with ice cubes made from the water of their choice.

New York (NY) Times
PUBLIC LIVES; Where Ice Water Is an Insult, and Tap Is a Disgrace
Published: February 14, 2002
DID you know that there are eighteen hundred waters in the world?’’ Filip Wretman earnestly inquired. Fair question, since young Mr. Wretman is the water sommelier at the brand new Ritz-Carlton at Battery Park, and is, the hotel says, the only water sommelier in America and possibly the entire universe.

That’s right.



The Internet Movie Database
Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Season 1, Episode 7
Feng Shui/Bottled Water (7 Mar. 2003)
PENN: Instead of a wine steward we created the world’s first water steward.

OCLC WorldCat record
Fine waters : a connoisseur’s guide to the worlds most distinctive bottled waters.
Author: Michael Mascha
Publisher: Philadelphia, Pa. : Quirk ; Enfield : Publishers Group UK [distributor], 2006.
Edition/Format: Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:  Water is indeed everywhere - especially bottled water. This work argues that bottled water deserves some focused attention and a prominent place on our tables. It states that bottled waters can be an epicurean delight if water is paired with the right food, served in the right stemware, and enjoyed at the right temperature.

Time magazine
The Making of a Water Snob
By Joel Stein Thursday, June 07, 2007
(Photo caption: “Water sommelier Michael Mascha, photographed in Harlingen, Texas.”—ed.)

Meet the World’s Water Sommelier
by Alexa Weibel, Posted Nov 13th 2009 @ 5:00PM
At the forefront of the water movement is water sommelier Michael Mascha, who is working to “educate people about premium bottled water” in hopes of “taking bottled water to the next level and making it a luxury item”—a lofty goal, considering the liquid is most often regarded strictly as a commodity. However, after a private water tasting at New York City’s Cook. Eat. Drink. Live. convention last weekend with Mascha—a retired food anthropology professor at USC and self-proclaimed “authority on the art of water tasting”—there may be more to water than meets the eye.

Still Getting Hosed: Starfire Water
Posted by Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB) on March 11, 2013
by Mark Edward via Skepticblog
The quest for the ultimate in hydration has now reached a high-water mark in surrealchemy. After the hype of fog-drip, coconut water, charcoal water, smoked water, vitamin water, gogi water and even “black water,” America continues getting hosed with a steady stream of scientific claims and the height of medicine show quackery. Can you say “snake oil?” One of my favorite episodes of Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit” is “The Truth About Bottled Water.” That classic featured a ”Water Sommelier” at a high-end restaurant.:
(Video follows—ed.)

Los Angeles (CA) Times
$20 for a bottle of water? Your water sommelier will bring the menu right away
By Jenn Harris
July 18, 2013, 2:25 p.m.
On a hot July afternoon, Martin Riese sits in a suit at one of the patio tables at Ray’s and Stark with eight bottles of water and 16 glasses in front of him.
Reise is the water sommelier—yes, there is such a thing—for the Patina Group of Retaurants. He’s launching a water menu Monday at Ray’s and Stark, the restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he is also the general manager. Some of the bottles will be priced as high as $20.

LA Restaurant Has 45-Page Water Menu, Water Sommelier
Tuesday, August 6, 2013, by Hillary Dixler
Ray’s & Stark Bar, the Patina Group’s restaurant and bar located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will be adding a 20-item Water Menu to its beverage list next week. Eater LA reports that Ray’s & Stark GM and water sommelier Martin Riese created the list which includes waters from ten different countries including Spain, France, Germany, and Canada. The bottles range in size from .75 - 1 liter, and are priced from $8 - $16.

The Daily Meal
Water to Wine: Are Water Sommeliers the Next Big Thing?
One Los Angeles restaurant seems to think so

Aug 06, 2013 @ 6:03 PM
Admit it — you chuckled a bit when you heard about the Ray’s & Stark Bar was launching “Los Angeles’ most extensive water menu.” Uh, a water menu? You mean sparkling or tap, right? Not so much.

Manager and self-proclaimed water sommelier Martin Riese is definitely not laughing. Judging by some excellent “kill ‘em with kindness” responses to the haters on Twitter, Riese is making it known that water is following the same trajectories of wine and beer: everyone wants a better wine or beer, and everyone wants a better water. Again, you might laugh reading about Fiji’s water’s “mouthfeel” (and you’ll have a heart attack at the $10 price tag), but Riese is a true believer in the case for water.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Coffeehouses/Food Stores • Tuesday, August 06, 2013 • Permalink