The Sparkling Water Only Southerners in Texas Know About
But the word is spreading.
It may just be sparkling water at the end of the day, but this particular brand has a following as fanatical as your niece's obsession with Harry Styles and a history that is more colorful than a LaCroix can.
Topo Chico, a bubbly mineral water sourced and bottled in Monterrey, Mexico, has been a staple of Texans for decades. Now, the bottles, a psychologically cooling shade of pale turquoise reminiscent of the water near a Tulum beach, imprinted with the yellow-and-red logo, have found their way into the coolers of coffee shops and taco shops further northward, but hasn't quite achieved mainstream access the way other brands have. A few of our editors are so enamored with Topo Chico they've mapped out a limited network of spots to find it in Birmingham, Alabama (where we're based) from international markets to wholesale restaurant supply stores.
But what makes it so special? Partly its origin. Sourced and bottled from the base of a mountain, Cerro del Topo Chico (Spanish for Little Mole Hill), since 1895, the waters, according to legend, once cured Moctezuma's daughter who had suffered from an undiagnosable disease. Generations after visited the springs to bathe in them medicinally.
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In the early 1900s, the bottler of Topo Chico also became the second biggest producer of Coca Cola in Mexico (Mexican Coke has also become a beloved beverage for its use of cane sugar instead of corn syrup). It foreshadowed an even bigger partnership since Coca Cola recently bought Topo Chico for $220 million this past month, banking on the new millennial-fueled fascination with the brand. It's left Topo devotees in a tizzy about their fizzy water, but optimists hope that this will just mean more availability.
While it might seem this craze is full of air, fans from chefs to musicians and average consumers love Topo Chico for just that reason. The bubbles are said to be bigger, creating a more effervescent experience with a tinge of saltiness from the sodium that occurs naturally in the springs (alongside other minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium). In Texas (and elsewhere now), you'll find cocktails using Topo instead of club soda for bubbles.
Although the distribution is limited (for now), you can find not just the classic glass bottles, but flavored Topo Chico in lime and grapefruit along with larger plastic bottles of it as well if you look in the right place. But if you live in a state that is outside its coverage area, you can still order it online through Texas-based grocery chain HEB and Wal-Mart.