Listen up, coconut water aficionados: It's time to make room in your fridge for maple water.
And lest you think this stuff will taste like watery Aunt Jemima, sip again. Maple water—the liquid that pours out of the tree when it's first tapped—has been harvested for centuries by the indigenous peoples of North America. It's only slightly sweet and tastes great chilled.
This naturally occurring, mineral-rich water, also known as maple sap, is collected by farmers in Canada and New England during the spring harvest. Once sterilized, it's ready to drink—on its own or in a cocktail. Since juice box-style packaged maple water hit the market this year—brands like Drink Maple and Vertical Water are leading the trend—bartenders and chefs have come up with increasingly creative ways to feature it.
Alex Berlingeri, a sommelier at BLT Steak in in New York City, uses maple water to stir up a drink he calls a Maple Fizz, a Prosecco-based cocktail spiked with ½ ounce of vodka and ¾ ounce of maple water that's been steeped with cardamom pods. "Unlike maple syrup, maple water isn't overly sweet," he says. "A good cocktail has both acidity and sweetness, and maple water is a great balancer," Berlingeri says. The water is also a tasty add-in to a smoothie or iced Americano, where it lends a slight caramel note.
Russell Wooten at Longitude Bar + Restaurant in Santa Monica uses it in brine for pork belly and cured duck. Others add it to a simple bowl of oatmeal, something Lisa Richards, the chef at the Wilburton Inn in Manchester, Vermont, swears by. Her self-described "hippie" oatmeal is a mix of steel-cut oats cooked in maple water, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and dried fruit.
It's a simple, satisfying way to make the most out of a maple tree.
Vertical Water ($2.69 for 16.9 ounces) is available at over 400 stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Markets and Wegmans; Drink Maple ($2.50 for 8.45 ounces) is available at select Whole Foods and online.
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