Branch Water Explained

By / Food / April 30th, 2012 / 1

In Tidings‘ May/June 2012 issue available now, Shirley Swerling-Puritt mentions something called branch water in her article on Southern American spirits and cocktails. How many of you know what branch water is? I had no idea. So, I went in search of some answers.

It turns out that branch water, at its most basic, is nothing more than plain water. But, as things can go with food and drink, the most basic explanation might scratch the itch nice and quick, but it doesn’t do much for the curious. Why would people call plain water by another name? Aha, I have an answer to that … and that answer makes branch water a whole lot more interesting.

What many in the Southern US refer to as branch, the rest of us would call a stream. Why branch? Well, what’s usually lying in the water? Branches that have fallen off nearby trees, or those that have naturally bent over and are skimming the surface of the water (think: weeping willow) are common sights. The belief is that the branches purify the water of minerals (no mention of parasites or bacteria!). Mixing purified water into your bourbon or cocktail (instead of soda water) cuts the drink without altering the flavour.

So there – now you know. Have you ever had a Branch & Bourbon?


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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