From The Founder

Dear Valued Clients &
Friends of Aqua Maestro

Some of you remember Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City. He was a real New Yorker, very much a character. Hizzoner’s catch-line was: “How’m I doing?” This is not normally a question bandied by politicians unless they’re pretty sure of the answer. But when Koch asked it, he never wanted an answer.

Koch’s “How’m I doing?” became a classic because it smacked of uncharacteristic candor from a politician. That the question was generally rhetorical became unimportant. The catch-line was a perfect match with Hizzoner’s patented facial expression equal parts glee and constipation.

It certainly stuck with me all these years, and I’d like to adapt it for use at Aqua Maestro. We want to ask our clients: “How’re we doing?” – but unlike Hizzoner, we want the real answers.

Please click the secure link here - and it will bring you to an online questionnaire. It will only take a few moments. Your answers will provide us with valuable information. And we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Even before any adjustments in our business model based on your input, I'm happy to report that all is well at Aqua Maestro. Business is booming on a seasonally adjusted basis. Revenue from our retail Home Delivery private client department was up sixty five percent compared to June, 2006. In absolute numbers, the department hovered around its all-time monthly high, which was achieved in the heart of the season. Great work by Alexis Donney-Brillinger. Our wholesale division is feeling its way out of the winter season, which ended two months ago, and into the summer season, which begins in earnest now. The company is looking at some exciting new products to further support their efforts.

This fall will mark the company’s fifth anniversary. Senior management changed in 2004 when I became involved in the day-to-day operations; and it changed again in 2007 when Aqua Maestro was sold. The bottled water industry, and the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry at large, is significantly different today compared to 2002.

I did some research: back in 1976, when Koch was contemplating his first mayoral race, Perrier’s total US sales were $600,000. No, I did not accidentally omit any zeroes. And, Perrier was the fine water market leader; Evian patterned its marketing and growth after Perrier. To really put that into perspective, the entire fine water industry in the US at that time was about the same size Aqua Maestro is today!

Nothing pulls your heartstrings quite like the letter from a soldier far from home. We get them occasionally at Aqua Maestro. Aqua Maestro proudly serves clients in the US military deployed both stateside, and overseas. We have shipped water to soldiers fighting in the Middle East and elsewhere. So it was with pleasure, and some pride, that I read an email last week from Air Force Master Sergeant John Peters. He wasn’t as impressed with Aqua Maestro servicing the concert tour by The Police as he was by the fact that we delivered his order in the desert of Qatar. Our pleasure, John.

The choices for Water-of-the-Month in July are appropriate for the summer heat. Both the PET plastic and the glass selections are very low TDS (total dissolved minerals), neutral pH waters. In other words, nothing but the purest waters for the hottest days.

We feature San Benedetto .33 Liter as the Plastic packaged Water-of-the-Month. The beautiful frosted blue .33 L PET body, with the matching cap, is real eye candy, and a favorite of “pure” water lovers worldwide.

Staying with the theme, we selected Highland Springs 1 Liter, from the Ochil Hills in Scotland, for the Glass packaged Water-of-the-Month. You can have your choice of still or sparkling 1 Liter Highland Springs, resplendent in its traditional green bottle with the label that may as well be made of heather.

By way of a postscript to last month’s column about the severe drought in South Florida, I think it has rained every single day since. The local newspapers never give us updates on “drought relief,” or how well Lake Okeechobee is refilling. I guess the meteorologists are superstitious.

The water shortage was getting real ugly down here – this article ran in the papers and on the web site of WPBF-TV, the West Palm Beach affiliate of ABC:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Officials said that when faced with a depleted water supply and extreme drought conditions, the city of West Palm Beach decided this spring to bypass a water filtration step and instead pump treated sewage water into its well fields.

Utility managers opted to not filter the treated sewage water through a marsh, a process that takes two years. Instead, officials blended the reuse water with millions of gallons of water from old Palm Beach County quarry pits then sent that water to well fields that serve more than 100,000 customers.

Thank heavens the heavens opened up.

Enjoy July: bring on those wonderful days of hot dogs, pretzels and fine water – or beer, if you like.

As always, please feel free to email me at

Thanks – Gene

Welcome Aboard

Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt Street
Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314
Restaurant Jezebel
914 Congress Avenue
1st Floor
Austin, Texas 78741
Rudy’s In-flight Catering
180 North Street
Teterboro, NJ 07608
Yogurt Tree
18303 Colima Road
Unit A
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Featured Water


Styria is a state in eastern Austria about fifty kilometers north of the Slovenian border. It is approximately one hundred kilometers from both Vienna to the northeast, and to Linz northwest. Styria’s geography is mountainous, as the western and southern portions of Austria lie within the Alps. By some reckonings, the region is very rugged and rural. For water lovers, it’s paradise.

Wildalp is a boutique product. Like so many of the other elite waters carried by Aqua Maestro, Wildalp enforces a limited production. The current bottling capacity is some 630,000 liters per day, and the total available output is in the hundreds of millions of liters annually, although Wildalp only bottles a tiny percentage of available output. The water’s purity and chemistry is attributable to three main reasons: the limestone rock from which the mountains are made, the elevation, and the pristine protected environment.

The company’s current management is intent on internationalizing their treasure. Wildalp’s Managing Director, Dr. Karl Matschisch, already has the brand established outside Austria in Germany, France, Greece, Cyprus, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Korea, and Taiwan – and now in the US through Aqua Maestro.

The quality that strikes anyone drinking Wildalp for the very first time is the incredibly pure, sweet taste. It is almost indescribable. A close look at the water’s chemistry provides most of the answer.

Wildalp Alpine Spring Water has a somewhat alkalinic pH value of 7.8. Veteran readers of FOUNTAINHEAD, and water connoisseurs, know that there is a sweet aftertaste produced by waters in the 7.2 - 7.9 range of pH. Given the fact that 7.8 is toward the high side; Wildalp could risk having a slight bitter aftertaste were it not for the extraordinary amount of natural Oxygen in the water – not the gimmick oxygen in so-called “02” infused waters. Not the case however. In fact, far from it.

The key to Wildalp’s unique sweet, clean taste is the oxygen level. Within the Total Dissolved Solids of 178 milligrams per liter, which qualifies Wildalp as a “Very Low Mineral” water,” there is only a trace of Sodium (1,97 mg/l), Calcium is appreciable at 42 mg/l, and both the Sulphate and Magnesium content are 12 mg/l. Nitrates are low at 3.7 mg/l.

The “Baby” version is optimally suitable for preparing baby food. The Seisenstein spring of Wildalpen Wasserverwertungs GmbH holds the Market Suitability Certificate for Pure Spring Water, which means that the water inside the bottled water has exactly the same chemical values as the spring itself (1:1). Additionally, Wildalp has a special International Health Certificate and the Quality Certificate of the Municipality of Wildalpen.

Aqua Maestro has three sizes of Wildalp. The 1.0 Liter (above) as well as the .5 Liter (right) are impeccably packaged in heavy gauge PET that almost has the feel of lucite. We also offer a tiny .25 Liter that easily fits in mom’s pocketbook. The bottles are perfectly cylindrical; labels simple and elegant, and the matching clear caps are a lovely finish to the package.

We strongly encourage our clients to give this great Austrian brand a try. If you want a first-hand testimonial, just ask Alexis at Aqua Maestro (pictured left with “Noel”); her eight-month old son loves his Wildalp – both straight, and with formula chaser.

To order, please call or email Alexis Donney-Brillinger in the Private Client Division – 561 392 3336 x 100; Wholesale inquiries should be directed to Shirley Costanza,


Trade Show Update

It’s that trade show time of year again, and Aqua Maestro is making the rounds. The National Restaurant Association Show – which unfortunately shares the acronym NRA with another association – had its annual affair on May 19 to 22 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. Aqua Maestro was a proud exhibitor once again. Apart from the usual cast of characters, the most notable thing this year was the keynote speech. Well, not the speech itself exactly, as it had little to do with restaurants, but the speaker. Center stage was Fred Thompson. You reckon the fella from Tennessee was drumming up viewers for a new episode of Law and Order?

June 17 through 19 was the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference. It used to be called CHIC for short – and it was “chic.”. Very islandy cosmopolitan, a delicious amalgam of European influence by way of the windwards. “Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Conference,” the new name, definitely sounds less chic. Aqua Maestro did its part, supplying great water for an event that seemed to have had a little more zing is previous years. Last year in particular, World Cup was going on and a certain electricity carried into the conference.

The most interesting speaker at the 2007 CHIC was Mr. John Fareed, a gentleman who has a made a career out of being a visionary. How does one become a hospitality “visionary?” I looked into John’s background and found out it’s not easy. You have to be part marine, part magician. Literally. Mr. Fareed did six years in the Marine Corps, and then worked fifteen years as a professional magician performing on cruise ships, in casinos and at private clubs such as the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. Talk about a career path.

Next up is the NASFT (National Association of Specialty Food Trade) shindig. With more than 2,400 exhibitors from 70 countries offering 140,000 food and beverage products, the 53rd Annual Summer Fancy Food Show returned to New York from July 8 - 10. It was the largest specialty, natural and organic food event ever in North America according to show officials.


It’s the forest through the trees. The company gets innumerable requests – which we are only too glad to handle – concerning selection of brand or packaging. We devised a piece of software called WATER-WARE, and “hid” it on our Home Page. If you look at, you will see the section below in the upper right center:

Try it. WATER-WARE has entry fields where you input your specific preferences and criteria. Then it sorts through our database to present you with the best set of possible “solutions.” As we add and change products to our portfolio, we constantly have to maintain the tables in WATER-WARE – so if you find any gliches or erroneous information, please bring it to our attention and we’ll get our programmers to correct it.

To the victor…

…goes the spoils. What do you get when an Austrian salesman on business in Thailand brings back a jungle recipe, finds some money to bottle the stuff, and discovers the perfect market at the perfect time with the perfect product? You find someone who has stepped in Red Bull. You find Dietrich Mateschitz.

Dietrich is so rich now from the success of selling small cans of peculiar-tasting energy drinks that he hardly even speaks to the press anymore. A far cry from twenty years ago in Red Bull’s infancy, when he and his partners would talk to anyone would listen to them. And the amazing thing is that, according Mr. Mateschitz, their revenue and market share are still dramatically expanding. In 2006, Red Bull sold an astonishing 3 Billion cans!

Next up will be a new product from his company, due to launch soon in the US, called Carpe Diem Botanic Water. Supposedly, as contrasted with the signature Red Bull drink, Carpe Diem will be “thirst quenching, great tasting, and the consumption beneficial because it also fulfills a dietetic purpose.”

In the meanwhile, regardless whether his new product flies or flops, Dietrich will continue to enjoy all – really, all – the spoils of a handsome, middle-aged European bazillionaire bachelor. Private islands, big jets, professional sports clubs, racing teams, and so forth.

Maybe that Red Bull stuff really works.

A lot of the smart money…

…will be in Mumbai (formerly “Bombay”) India November 29 and 30 for a trade show centered on PET plastic and the acceleration of bottled non-alcoholic beverage (“NAB”) brands in the country. Consider the metrics: India’s middle class stands at around 300 Million people, and is the driving sector in their internal economy. To put the size of this middle class in perspective, it represents the equivalent market of Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the UK combined. Not only that, but it grows 100,000 people per day.

As previous PIPELINE features have documented, India and China are without doubt the two most dynamic NAB opportunities on the planet. It will be most interesting to see which group strikes the right chord with taste, functionality, and packaging appeal. Anyone for Curry Carpe Diem?

Coke Pays $4.1Billion for Glacèau

Upstart company Glacèau, with its Vitamin Water and Smart Water products, finally hit the major jackpot. With Coke struggling to produce revenue in the non-carbonated sector of the NAB industry – and having the luxury of an annual cash flow of some $5 Billion after expenses – it made sense (to some people) to scoop up the company founded by J. Darius Bikoff, who must now qualify as the US version of Dietrich Mateschitz.

Money doesn’t go very far anymore. Why, it was just twenty years ago when Coke spent $750 Million on Columbia Pictures. And now, six times that much for water. Progress.

© 2007