My oldest memory of Soda siphons goes back to France during the Sixties, when everybody was sitting in bars and Bistrots drinking Pernod, Ricard or Absinthe, topped up and diluted with carbonated soda water spurting from one of those wonderful looking siphon bottles. Later, when I came to Spain during the Seventies, I was glad to find a similar custom the other side of the Pyrenees. There was not one single bar or Bodega in Spain where a siphoned bottle of water would not sit on the counter waiting for the discerning customer drinking their Vermú Yzaguirre or a Bitter. The same when I first came to Mallorca. Here, apart from the Vermut, it was mainly the Palo that needed a little spritz of siphoned water.
There was a time not all that long ago when, here in Mallorca, some 130 soda bottlers fabricated their own carbonated soda water. Each one of those would be the proud proprietor of their very own siphon bottle. Those bottles were produced in thick, heavy glass and carried their individual, stark design, often influenced by the style of the Twenties or Thirties. When, during the Fifties and Sixties, the occasional siphon bottle would explode and possibly cause injuries to the bar tender, Mallorcan siphon bottles were encased, first with straw and later, with a plastic apron which, in my opinion, lead to the demise of the siphon bottle, here in Mallorca. In 2011, there are but two or three soda water bottlers on the island. Today, the siphon bottles are usually made in firm plastic. Ghastly, if you ask me.
The difference between siphon bottles in France or Italy and those in Spain is that the former ones work with CO² cartridges whereas their Spanish or Mallorcan counterparts do not need a cartridge. Here, instead, the gas is introduced into the bottle at the same time as it is filled with water. I am not quite sure as to how that works. I did ask and was given an answer but, I am afraid I did not understand the technical and chemical implications, hard as I may have tried.
The old bottles, now long since in disuse, can be purchased in Mallorcan flea markets or Ferias. Fine examples retail at 20 € to 25 €, more common bottles sell for 10 € or 15 €. The bottles (below) are priceless. They would probably fetch in excess of 100 €, if you can find them.
The photo (top) was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 18th, 2010. The time was 19:22:05. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of mestelrich2.blogspot.com.