There's a 'water bar' in San Francisco that will pour you shots of fruit water, not booze - take a look inside
Katie Canales/Business Insider
San Francisco has avocado food festivals and vending machines that spit out $50 down vests for techies venturing through the airport. So it's entirely in keeping with the city's character that San Francisco has a water bar - as in a bar that will pour you different flavors of water.
Flavored water company Hint launched the concept at its recently-opened retail location in the city's Cow Hollow neighborhood, right next to the company's headquarters. For 13 years now, the company has been in the sugarless, zero-calorie fruit-infused water business. More recently, Hint has become a hit with some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies like Google and PayPal.
With this new water bar, Hint CEO Kara Goldin told Business Insider that it's meant to "give customers a little more experience" with the brand.
I paid a visit to the bar recently, which also includes Hint-branded merchandise and a rustic swing for Instagram-worthy photoshoots.
Here's what it's like.
Hint's new retail store sits next to its San Francisco headquarters, in the city's Cow Hollow neighborhood.
The bar serves up samples of Hint's fruit-infused water, on a rotating basis When I paid a visit, guests could get free samples of the lime and cherry drinks.
Here's what you'll see when you walk in.
There's regular Hint water as well as a sparkling water option, dubbed Hint Fizz. And for the brave — as in, not me — there's Hint Kick, which is caffeinated water available in flavors like lemon cayenne and apple pear.
The "bartenders" will pour you out small samples of any flavor — not just the suggested flavors of the day. You can come in and get your hydration on with a variety of flavors.
If you fall in love with a flavor, you can pick up a full bottle for $1.50 each. I bought a refreshing grapefruit Hint Fizz, the sparkling carbonated water.
You and your friends can then take your water and socialize at the bar top just as you would at a run-of-the-mill pub. Charging outlets are installed in the countertop.
A rainbow-colored staircase leads to the back office of the flagship store.
However, this store is not just about the company's flavored water...it's also a way to push the Hint brand. You can pick up some Hint-branded merch, like chapstick, the company's popular sunscreen and even speakers, from a rack in the corner.
And, perhaps because of its proximity to Silicon Valley, you can also get your tech fix while you're there. Hint-branded Fitbit Flex fitness trackers are available in store for $65 a pop. It sells other gadgets, like Bluetooth speakers, too.
Unexpectedly, the company's newest product is sunscreen. It comes in three scents: grapefruit, pineapple and pear. Hint boasts that its sunscreen lacks harsh chemicals like oxybenzones and parabens.
I can't speak to how it actually performs as a SPF 30 UV ray-blocking product, but I can say that it smelled fantastic.
And last but not least is a swing in front of a multi-colored mural — because what's a water bar in San Francisco without an Instagram-worthy photo backdrop?
Hint has turned the swing into a photo booth, so you can take your own photos in celebration of the fruit water.
Here's what the end result looks like.
The bar doesn't seem to have caught on just yet — it was totally empty when I went. Granted, I visited at around 5:30pm on a Wednesday, but after talking to the bartenders, they said there isn't usually a lot of foot traffic. At least, not yet.
Still, this is San Francisco. If the idea of a water bar catches on anywhere, it would be here.
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