God bless New York City. With one of the world’s highest per-square-mile concentrations of eccentrics, fussbudgets, and tastemakers extraordinaire, it’s a natural breeding ground for specialized services and eateries that could never take root—much less thrive—almost anywhere else.
One case in point: This month’s Imbibe sports a short but engaging profile of Walter Backerman, one of the country’s last seltzer deliverypeople. Toting high-quality seltzer from Gomberg Seltzer Works in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, Walter doles out his product in antique siphon bottles handblown in the former country of Czechoslovakia.
How does one earn a living as a seltzer schlepper? By cultivating clients like Franklin D. Roosevelt III, corresponding via email with a growing raft of foodie clients, and selling antique soda and seltzer bottles on eBay for up to $500 a pop. It’s a strange job, but somebody’s got to do it. Or—more accurately—it’s nice that somebody’s still doing it.