Best way to get a bottle of seltzer (2008)

Walter Backerman

Walter Backerman says he gets followed all the time—by reporters, that is. NPR, The New York Times, and, most recently, a TV crew from Japan are just a few of those curious about his anachronistic occupation as a third-generation seltzer man. "It's like I live in a movie," he said. "People think I shouldn't exist, but I do exist." And his loyal customers, from Park Avenue penthouses to downtown studios, hope that Backerman never retires. The difference in taste and effervescence between his seltzer (bottled at the Gomberg Seltzer Works in Canarsie) and store-bought brands is worth the price ($25 for a case of 10 26-ounce bottles)—not to mention the nostalgia one feels while making a fizzy cocktail or egg cream with one of his old-fashioned blue or green spray bottles, some more than 50 years old. Besides all the media attention, Backerman says the best part of his job is that "people appreciate me coming to them, and when they see me, they smile. It's a beautiful thing to be wanted."

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