"Water Bar" celebrates the wonder and fragility of tap water

Arts group Works Progress Studio have opened Water Bar, which bills itself as the first-ever bar devoted to nothing but public sources of water.

The donor-supported storefront serves free tastings from flights of tap water from Minneapolis and around America, alongside treated well water and other sources of public water. Their slogan is "Water is all we have."

Far from being a celebration of excess, mountains of plastic bottle waste, water-seizing military dictatorships and aquifer-draining crony-capitalist profiteering, the project is about the everyday miracle of clean, drinkable water on tap for all, whose sidelining has resulted in one of the worst public health crises in modern American history.

The premise is pretty simple, really.

"The Water Bar is a bar that serves local tap water. We give it away for free; it's primarily Minneapolis tap water, but we'll have other local metro area taps, some rotating taps, maybe some time tap waters from other parts of MN. The idea is to help people talk about their connections to tap water," Matteson said.

They've taken the project all over the state, and around the Midwest. And now, kind of like a food truck that finds a permanent home, the Water Bar project is moving into a shop on Central Avenue just off Lowry. Having a permanent home will allow the project to expand its reach.

"The most important thing is that we're actually combining the Water Bar with a public studio, which we're thinking of as an art sustainability studio and incubator, intended to build local projects with other artists and designers, all about water and environmental sustainability at the local level," Matteson told me.

The first step though, is to recruit some bartenders. Works Progress is going to wrangle experts on the water system from various capacities — engineers, city employees, environmental experts, students — who will be trained in some of the basics of the Twin Cities' water system. Their job will be to pour the drinks, and start the watery conversations.

The world's first full-fledged 'water bar' is about to open in Minneapolis
[Bill Lindeke/Minnpost]

Water Bar