‘Water Bar’ serving only free tap water is major hit

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‘Water Bar’ serving only free tap water is major hit

MINNEAPOLIS - It’s a bar that serves nothing but tap water. For free.

The concept, developed by Minneapolis artists Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson, began as a string of artist spaces and fund-raising events, but has become such a hit that its founders are preparing to open a Water Bar taproom in northeast Minneapolis, serving pints of city water plus limited-edition pours from other communities. Visitors will get to taste and compare, but the goal is bigger; connecting the public with scientists, utility employees, environmentalists and activists who will serve as bartenders.

“It’s really about opening up a conversation with the idea that ‘water is all we have,’ which is our tagline, because that’s all we’re serving,” Matteson said.

With widespread attention on the lead contamination of water in Flint, Michigan, and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton making water issues a personal priority for the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Kloecker and Matteson’s timing is ideal.

The storefront Water Bar, slated to open in May, won’t serve costly artisanal water but will instead draw its glasses directly from the tap. Funding sources include a neighborhood association, a crowdfunding website and ongoing pop-up events. Any tips the bartenders receive will go toward supporting allied organizations and providing seed funding for community projects.

“What Water Bar does is let communities and experts come together and talk to each other about, ‘What are the issues here? Have you thought about where your water comes from? What are you concerned about when it comes to water?”’ said Kate Brauman, lead scientist for the Global Water Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Brauman worked the bar at an on-campus event last year, which was so popular they ran out of cups.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, Kloecker recruited city water employees and students from Guilford College to bartend a pop-up event in October.

“You would have thought they were drinking vodka martinis or something,” said Steve Drew, director of Greensboro’s water system.

Some swished the water in their mouths as if they were tasting wine, videos from the event show.

A boy whose chin barely came over the bar tried a couple samples and said, “I think I like the orange one best,” referring to a glass jug with a little orange label that meant it came from Reidsville, one of Greensboro’s suppliers.

“All right!” replied bartender Mike Borchers, deputy director of Greensboro’s water system. AP
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