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By Jessica Dodell-Feder. Photographs by Burcu Avsar.

Country Living Magazine Whether bottled or served straight from the kitchen tap, water is the perfect thirst-quenching beverage.

When paired with slices of fruit or vegetables and presented in a pretty pitcher, water becomes an easy, elegant beverage option for special dinners, parties, or under-the-stars soirées. And, best of all, it costs just pennies a serving.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are all you need to transform tap water into something special. Add a quarter of a cucumber cut into spears, half a sliced apple, or half an orange divided into wedges to one quart of water. Chill for at least an hour and drink within the day. Use a spring water low in minerals for the purest flavor.

Water 101

Nearly 3,000 brands of bottled water are available on the market -- enough to confuse even the savviest shoppers. Here, we make sense of the bottles on your grocery store's shelves.

Artesian: Water, such as Fiji that filters through an aquifer -- a layer of porous rock, sand, or gravel -- and is bottled directly from an underground well, without coming in contact with surface impurities.

Mineral: Bottled water containing at least 250 mg/liter of dissolved calcium, magnesium, salts, and other substances; can be sparkling or still.

Sparkling: Effervescent water, such as Sanfaustino, that has been carbonated by minerals or volcanic gases. Other fizzy waters, such as seltzer, owe their bubbles to the addition of carbon dioxide during bottling.

Spring: Any water that flows to the earth's surface naturally from an underground source; can be carbonated or still, with varying mineral content.

Enhanced: Waters, including Glaceau's Smartwater, enriched with electrolytes and vitamins.

On the Rocks

Add sweetness and a hint of color to club soda, ginger ale, or tap water with homemade ice cubes flavored with simple syrups. We used Tovolo's Perfect Cube trays to create the square cubes pictured. (Pictured here from top to bottom: lime & grenadine, ginger, and elderflower)

Lime & grenadine ice cubes: Combine 1 teaspoon Rose's lime syrup and 1 tablespoon grenadine with 1 cup water. Fill ice cube tray and freeze.

Ginger ice cubes: Combine 1 ounce ginger peeled and sliced with 8 ounces of water. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain. Fill ice cube tray and freeze.

Elderflower ice cubes: Combine 2 tablespoons elderflower syrup with 1 cup water. Fill ice cube tray and freeze.

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