At Joseph Leonard, Drinking Outside of the Box


When Gabriel Stulman opens Joseph Leonard, his so-called “bar with serious food,” next week, he’ll be the first New York purveyor of Boxed Water Is Better.
As its name suggests, this is water with a purpose: according to its website, it’s “part sustainable water company, part art project, part philanthropic project, and completely curious.”

More simply put, “it’s just carbon-filtered, purified municipal water” from Minnesota, says Kevin Hockin, who, with Benjamin Gott, co-founded the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company in April 2008. Their water is packaged in paper containers made largely from sustainably harvested trees; Hockin says that the containers can be shipped flat to the company’s filler, reducing the number of trucks needed for transit.

The deal with Joseph Leonard came about from Gott’s friendship with Stulman, Hockin says, but the company is hoping to break into wider East Coast distribution “by the end of the summer.” They’re also lining up a filler on the East Coast to avoid exceeding a 200-mile travel radius.

The water is currently carried in 20 retail outlets around Western Michigan, though yesterday the company signed a distribution deal for the entire state. Aside from making the water — which retails for $1.50 to $1.75 — more accessible, it should help diminish Hockin’s own carbon footprint:  “Right now,” he says, “I’m literally distributing [the water] out of my car.”