Emer McLysaght: My sparkling water addiction is getting out of hand

Carbonated water initially tastes of TV static or liquid pins and needles, but now I’m hooked

Every few months I return, like a dog to its sick, to the websites that peddle The Tap. Unfamiliar with The Tap? Then please imagine a world where your favourite beverage is available to you with a simple twist of the hand. If your favourite beverage is water, well then you’re living the fantasy every day as a lucky citizen of the developed world. If your favourite beverage is wine, you can get it in a box with its own little faucet. If, like me, you are effortlessly cosmopolitan and European and your favourite tipple is sparkling water, then you need The Tap.

It’s like a regular tap, except sparkling water comes out of it. And boiling water, and ice-cold filtered water if your heart so desires. It lives on websites where things are so expensive they don’t bother including the prices. It exists in contexts where €8,000 for a kitchen tap wouldn’t even make it on to a sundries list on a renovation budget. It’s probably appeared on a few episodes of Grand Designs. I aspire to one day have The Tap and gulp at sparkling water until the last polite burp leaves my body.

I was first introduced to sparkling water on holidays to France and Spain where I felt incredibly chic opting for the "con gas" option as opposed to the still agua I favoured as a lumpen bog maiden back in Ireland. "Garçon, bring us also a round of Oranginas for the table, por favor," I probably added, losing the run of myself completely. I will admit I wasn't a fan at the start given that a first introduction to sparkling water can be likened to drinking TV static or liquid pins and needles. Living in Spain for a spell really developed my con gas palate though as I sought to quench my thirst from the boiling heat – lumpen bog maiden, remember? – without always resorting to traditional fizzy drinks. And as coffee culture took off in Ireland I, as a non-coffee drinker, used sparkling water as my crutch among the americano and latte swillers.

Now, I’m addicted. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I’m on the verge of buying an affordable version of The Tap – a countertop SodaStream-but-not-a-SodaStream to keep me in supply. I’m worried though. How long with will the gas canister last? What if it runs out at a crucial moment when I’m just about to settle in for a nice glass of sparklers and a few episodes of Escape to the Chateau? But then I can’t keep going the way I’m going now, guzzling two-litre bottles as the planet burns around me, but if I could afford to move on to buying the glass bottles well then I could afford to install The Tap. I will have to bite the bullet and buy the countertop carbonator. A friend has a Mysoda one and says it does the job. Aarke is another brand that keeps popping up as the sparkling water trend goes from strength to strength and people continue to drain the supplies of my life elixir.


Sparkling water is huge in America at the moment but when they say sparkling water they mean flavoured sparkling water. The trend was spearheaded by the delicious La Croix brand a couple of years ago and now there are countless cans, bottles and flavours. Adding alcohol to sparkling water, or “seltzer” has proven to be another lucrative move, with White Claw as the leader in terms of household names. It was launched in Ireland in May 2020 and became the drink to be seen swigging at the socially distanced pandemic picnic birthday party.

But look, I just want to keep it simple. I want sparkling water on tap. I want sparking water prices to be standardised so I can order it in a restaurant without playing a game of Russian Roulette on the price – will it be €2.50 or will it be €13? Speaking of restaurants, a flurry went around my WhatsApp groups a few weeks ago that The Market Bar on Dublin’s Fade Street was offering not only free sparkling water but free bread as standard. Well, we couldn’t have booked a table quick enough to find out for ourselves and sure enough there it was, as free flowing as the Liffey after three days of rain. I was beside myself. Jesus, maybe they have The Tap?

Can it be good for me, all this sparkling water? I asked a dietician and she couldn't come up with any significant negatives. She said she had heard something about it being bad for your teeth, a claim which a friend had also heard straight from a dentist's perfect mouth. I did some intensive research via my dear uncle Google and he told me the teeth rumour is probably rubbish. Besides, I will take eroded gnashers over giving up my beloved spicy water any day of the week. What's that garçon? It's €17 a bottle? I'll take two!