‘Reservation for two?” I nodded. As our perky hostess led us to our table I whispered in my Valentine’s ear. “Who would have thought we’d make it to 2031?”
I had heard about Cafe Agua when I took a tour of Arizona wateries last year. Like wineries, wateries specialize in fine waters and Cafe Agua had the finest selection in the west.
“Will you be having water tonight?” Our waiter was a persnickety roadrunner of a man.
“May I suggest a bottle of Lake Mead Bleu?” His head bobbed as he described the water. “Lovingly strained from the dust behind Hoover Dam, Mead offers the discriminating water aficionado a bouquet reminiscent of a Vegas casino fountain.” He arched his eyebrow. “Before all that dreadful rationing.”
“I was hoping you might have a bottle of Zona Watershed.”
“Ah ,Watershed! Famous for its roasted woodsy fragrance, reminiscent of the spectacular wildfires that destroyed the West’s watersheds in the last decade. Blessed with a hint of sparkling Cienega, and served in a vintage canteen, Watershed is the smoky Zinfandel of waters.”
Roadrunner man adjusted his bow tie and smiled. “May I ask? What are you two celebrating tonight? One hundred days of nighttime temperatures over 112 degrees?”
I chuckled. “No. We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day.”
My sunburned Valentine had a question. “Do you have any Colorado, Lifeblood of the West, on hand? I hear its made from the finest Rocky Mountain snowmelt? Is that true?”
“Ah! Colorado River Water!” Our waiter looked to the heavens. “Ice crystals lovingly melted, drizzled down the side of the Rockies, cascading into the Grand Canyon where they are shaken and stirred. ... Thanks to climate change it hasn’t snowed south of Montreal since 2019. As a result, Lifeblood is a very limited edition beverage.”
“At a Christie’s auction a bottle recently sold for 30,000 bitcoins .”
“Wow. It must be more rare than Arizona Gold.”
Our waiter was impressed by my knowledge of water. “Ah. Arizona Gold, the premium recycled ‘Agua de Toilette.’ As quixotic as our extreme weather, Arizona Gold is a perky ‘rehabilitated’ water with a mellow taste that calls to mind the pale scent of a freshly cleaned aquarium. Once shunned, it is now —”
“— More prized than a bottle of 1999 Golf Course Effluent?” I was showing off.
“You know your waters, sir!” He sighed. “Unfortunately we are out of both. Our stock has, shall we say, dried up?”
He put his finger to his chin. “Let me think for a moment.” His eyes lit up. “If you are into locally grown ... perhaps you would like to try our Rosemont Mine Rosé, harvested from a pit lake in the desolate, scarred rolling hills of the Sonoita region?”
“No thanks, I’ve tried it.” I winked at my date. “I’d rather drink a flask of California Hot Tub.”
“Hmm. Perhaps, you’d like to sample our Central Arizona Project ’99? With a distinctive caliche taste and the dry, gritty flavor of a Phoenix haboob — ”
Valentine shot me the veto look.
I scanned the list while she applied more ChapStick. By now we were parched. In the background I heard vintage cowboy music. Sons of the Pioneers?
“All day I’ve faced
the barren waste,
without the taste of water:
Co-o-o-ol water. Water.”
“Hmm. Desalinated Baja. Sorry. I’d rather drink West Virginia tap water from 2014. It tastes like Koi Pond.” I was ruffling our waiter’s feathers.
“Old Dan and I, with throats burned dry,
And souls that cry for water: Water.
Cool, Clear, Water.”
“May I suggest a flute of ‘Arid Zone Aquifer’? I think you’ll both like it. A millennium of monsoon rainwater aged in mother earth’s ancient cisterns, this cocky yet pale aqua pura is unmatched.”
Roadrunner’s head bobbed. His superb suggestion aside, I closed the menu and announced our choice.“A bottle of your finest Rillito Recharge.”
“Excellent choice, sir. The essence of a refreshing flash flood blended with the aroma of creosote leaves. Rillito is the beautifully balanced water perfect for bioengineered meals and romantic occasions.” Relieved, roadrunner man clucked, spun on his heels and scurried away.
Water isn’t usually in our budget, but this night was special. After dinner we turned to small talk about stories in the news. “How about that Scottsdale plastic surgeon who’s now doing camel hump grafts? I guess if you want to make yourself as drought resistant as a dromedary...” I poured the last of the delicious Rillito into our glasses. “Is that wild or what? Here’s to us.”
Walking to our hybrid we looked up at the beautiful stars hanging in the cloudless sky overhead. A sky as cloudless as all the other 364 skies this year. I went back in and got a bottle of Arid Zone Aquifer to go.