Move over coffee houses, there is a new café in town.
Kava, made from the ground root of a kava plant, has become a new favorite in Florida. So much so, there new kava bars and cafes opening up all over. These bars offer a pleasant place to gather with friends where you can release pent up anxiety and feel relaxed, and no, I’m not exaggerating.
Kava is a Western Pacific drink featuring a robust and earthy flavor. It is said to produce a state of calm and reduce anxiety. Affecting parts of the central nervous system in the brain, kava produces certain chemicals said to help with the effects of anxiety and insomnia. It’s been described as if you’re getting high without impairing your cognitive functions. After all, the Latin name for it is Piper methysticum, meaning “intoxicating pepper.” So, how is this psychoactive drink made?
This special drink is prepared by grinding the root of a kava plant into a powder and then soaking it in water. This allows for the root to filter out but can also be done by kneading a mound of kava wrapped in cloth. The final product is a murky brown substance with an earthy aroma. Traditionally, it can be served with various fruits, but it can also be made into delicious drinks, as found at Wildcrafters Booze-Free Bar.
Locally owned and operated, Wildcrafters offers a relaxing environment surrounded by plants, comfort and good people. Owner Yhang Quintero opened the non-alcoholic kava bar in 2020 as a fun alternative to being at a local bar “without the hangover.” Quintero decided to serve kava, in part, because it “works in a similar way to alcohol…you find yourself giggling, having fun, opening up, meeting new people.” What more do you need?
Located in the heart of Riverside, Wilcrafters hosts live music and events, welcoming every person that comes through the door. I did not realize how many drinks you could make with kava until I saw their menu. I couldn’t even decide, I just told them to “surprise me,” and they sure did.
Trying my first kava cocktail was a euphoric experience. As I sipped on the pretty purple drink, I tasted everything from earthy to sweet flavors, thanks to the coconut and fruit added. I was able to sit down and feel myself release a sort of calmness I didn’t realize I could feel on a busy day.
I wanted to know why kava was the drink of choice and Quintero was quick to let me know that in Hawaii, they say kava is “love in a cup” and he wanted to “get everybody drunk on love.” Next time you go for a night out, but do not want the awful hangover the next morning, try a kava bar. Dance, meet new people, have fun and get drunk on love.
If you’re more of a homebody, do not fret! You can make your own kava drinks. After purchasing kava root powder, recommended by most enthusiasts, mix the powder in a strainer with some water. After kneading the mixture to combine it, a liquid will be produced. This liquid is what you can use to prepare many delicious drinks if you are looking to mask the bitter natural flavor of kava.
Love chocolate and want to feel relaxed? A chocolate kava milkshake is just for you. Using the prepared liquid, add in coconut milk, cocoa powder, a little sugar and some ice into a blender and, boom, a chocolate kava milkshake to cool you off during the summer. Maybe you are looking for a nice juice during your break in the day. Just take a bottle of ginger ale and a cup of your favorite fruit juice and add in a tablespoon or two of instant kava powder. Squeeze in a lime and there you have it, a delicious and quick kava fruit juice.
However, you still need to be cognizant of how much you drink. It is reported there are possible effects the drink can have on your liver if too much is consumed, similar to alcohol. Be safe and have fun!