Kava Bar

What Is a Kava Bar Like?

Have you noticed the signs for that new “kava lounge” downtown and wondered…what the heck is a kava lounge? Also called kava bars, you may be tempted to check it out. If you’ve been to one already, then you know it’s a great place to unwind, meet up with friends, or do a vibe-check on that latest swipe right person.

We spoke with a kava bar owner from Wilmington, NC, to find out what her kava bar is like. You may be surprised to know that the atmosphere is one of calmness and acceptance – all are welcome to enjoy kava. But you won’t find any alcohol at these trendy bars. Kava is the star of these social spaces.

Today We’ll Take a Look at:

  • A real-life kava bar that’s been serving the Wilmington community for eight years and has become like a second home for kava-loving people from all walks of life.
  • A bit about what kava bars are and how they came to the US.
  • The sensory experience you can expect when you walk into a kava lounge – plus, a little about the menu!

If you haven’t gone in the door yet – but you want to – here’s a little of what you might expect to experience at that new kava bar near you.

The New Alternative to Alcohol

Bespeckled with everyone from grandmas to construction workers to college students – kava bars provide a harmonious zone where people can enjoy the benefits of kava; nature’s bounty of calm.

For those of you who have never experienced the ambiance of a kava lounge, or heard of one, you may be surprised to know how fast the trend is growing as an alternative to the alcohol-based bar scene. Just Google search for a “kava bar near me” and see what’s available!

In the spirit of the Pacific islanders who created the kava tonic and its traditions, kava bars are popping up all over the place. Some have island-themed decor, and others capture the coffee-shop vibe. Mom-and-pops and franchises make this an attractive small business that’s got a competitive edge. Each kava bar is a little different, reflecting the owners’ desires and suiting the communities in which they are nestled.

With or without palm trees and tropical aesthetics, Kava bars bring the “spirit” of island calm into our busy lives. People go there to relax, enjoy some kava, and socialize. Visitors may enjoy a kava drink from a coconut bowl, hang out with friends, and then go home to a good night’s sleep. No alcohol. No drunken disorderliness. No nasty hangovers. Sounds good, right?

Original Kava Bars vs Modern Kava Lounges

Kava comes from a plant in the pepper family called Piper methysticum. It has a peppery, earthy, and sometimes spicy or bitter flavor. The drink has a long history with Pacific islanders as a way to enhance ceremonial traditions and to generate a sense of social ease. Local men would gather in the kava bars, usually at dusk after a long day’s work, to unwind and discuss important things.

In Polynesian culture, kava root was also given as gifts to island visitors as a gesture to “foster good relations,” as explained in one of the most notable “handbooks” on kava, The Pacific Elixir. Kava was traded as a commodity, as well.

Because kava was used mostly by men in small ceremonies, it took some time and cultural shifts for kava to begin showing up in the west. Perhaps it is because so many people visiting the Pacific Islands reported back about the spicy drink that had such an effect on them. As these original kava bars became more open to the community, and trade with other countries more kava-centric, other countries began recreating similar establishments on their own turf. Kava bars began showing up in Florida in the mid-nineties. Generosity and relaxed comradery are fertile soils for sharing, and so enjoying kava and sharing it were synonymous. Nowadays, it’s not just the men who enjoy this relaxing pastime. Today’s kava bars invite modern kava drinkers to celebrate all of the nuanced history of this potent herb, while also learning to use the ancient botanical as a way to enhance their own lives in a modern world.

Kava drinkers no longer have to enjoy their craft only at home, and may meet up with friends or co-workers at a local kava bar. Kava bars, or kava lounges, are especially popular in Florida (the “Kava Capital of the U.S.”), California, and in North Carolina college hubs. Today, you can meet up with your friends at a kava lounge and simply order up a kava drink.

Does Kava ‘Intoxicate’ the Senses?

Kava does not intoxicate you like alcohol does. One reason kava bars are popping up everywhere is that more and more people want a social scene that’s not based on alcohol. And they want relaxation without intoxication and nasty hangovers. Naturally, kava is gaining interest as a potential healthier alternative to alcoholic beverages.

Non-alcoholic drinks are available at regular bars, of course, but the vibe of a traditional bar is not for everyone. Plus, you don’t really have to impair cognitive function just to have a good time, right? If you’re looking for a non-addictive social drink that’s still a good time, kava may be the perfect choice.

The Pacific Elixir authors also explained that kava does “enhance feelings of interpersonal universalism and does promote goodwill.” This means people can find their calm and their vibe with kava social scenes.

That just sounds so much more relaxing than a night out at a loud bar with people getting drunk. If you want something different…you have to try something different. Like a coconut bowl and that milky pungent brew that helps you to slip into an atmosphere that’s more comfortable.

What Is Served in a Kava Bar or Kava Lounge?

Speaking of coconut bowls…what do they serve at kava lounges? Are there alcoholic beverages too? Food or snacks? Likely you’ll find a variety of kava choices as kava really is the star of the menu at a kava lounge. And, there’s good reason for that.

  • Kava and alcohol together aren’t a good idea.
  • Kava works better on an empty stomach.

Spicy, earthy kava bowls are served alongside botanical drinks of other sorts: CBD and THC drinks, kratom drinks, various herbal teas, energy drinks, mushroom drinks, regular and craft sodas, Yerba Mate, and non-alcoholic mocktails. So kava isn’t necessarily the only thing on the menu! In fact, the whole vibe is a menu all its own. You just go, partake, chill, and enjoy. (Best served with friends.)

What’s it Like Going to a Kava Bar?

Kava bars are all about a relaxing social experience where people can enjoy the positive effects of kava and feel a sense of community. We talked to Coley Oh, the owner of Rooted Kava Lounge – whose Facebook bio says “Exotic teas, good times, open mic. We celebrate love & diversity. Encourage study time, chill vibes.”

We asked her to tell us about her kava bar, what it’s like, and the atmosphere we could expect when we visit there. She was more than happy to share with us her journey from idea to brick-and-mortar, and how that’s provided such a unique and necessary space for her community. Today, people from all walks of life can find community and a sense of family in her establishment, something she’s very proud of providing for her community. (In the true spirit of kava!)

At Rooted, you’ll find walls of beautiful artwork, a relaxing ambiance that’s somewhere between coffee shop, bar, and funky library, nestled in the heart of Wilmington, a port town near the coast of North Carolina. Locals and travelers alike visit there any day of the year to find what it is they need – calm, community, social stimulation, acceptance, and in many cases, friendships.

And, of course, a variety of kava selections!

Coley Oh opened Rooted Kava Lounge about eight years ago, seeking to create a place where people could gather, socialize safely, and maybe get a little studying done. Little did she know then that she’d face so many legal difficulties in an industry burdened by the ebb and flow of regulatory changes – such is the case with many botanicals like THC and kratom.

But Coley Oh didn’t give up on her vision. Her hard work and dedication to providing this service to the community – a vibe that nods to some of that island communal culture of kava – has grown into something so much more; a sense of family. Coley Oh shared with us, “I definitely never imagined that a place like Rooted would curate such a strong and loving community. Never in a million years could I have imagined the type of magic in the atmosphere that exists like it does at Rooted. Here, nobody is a stranger.”

Today, kava bars like Rooted, often are open for much longer hours over the after-work and dusk-time traditions of the original Vanuatu kava establishments, called Nakamals. Nowadays, kava bars branch out their menus to other botanical drinks that can influence your vibe.

Coley Oh said “even if you feel like being a loner or by yourself, you can do that, but at least you are in the vicinity of other humans and that does something for your soul.” Kava bars often are themed to island life or a particular area of the Pacific Islands. Coley Oh didn’t want to jump on the “tiki-hut” train, and opted for a less stereotypical aesthetic. The atmosphere is homey and welcoming, appealing to a broader scale of patrons.

The kava bars in your area may be a bit different, but overall they are focused on non-alcoholic socializing, and on a chill environment. Just go check one out!

Herbal Kava Root at Home

Unfortunately, there may not be a trendy kava bar in your area. No worries, because you can get pure kava root powders to brew into teas or other kava beverages right at home. But you’ll need to buy really good kava if you want the best experience. Kats Botanicals is your one-stop hub for kava, kratom, CBD, and other life-enhancing botanicals. You can brew up your own kava tea, listen to ambient sounds of a real-life kava bar, and relax on your own turf.

We believe finding the plant-based power you need should be an easy and pleasant experience. That’s why we focus on providing top-quality herbal supplements for you. We sustainably harvest, expertly produce, and quality test it ALL.

Visit the shop, pick out what you need, place your order, and then simply enjoy your wellness journey with products you can trust!

Written By Staff

The staff writers for Kats Botanicals have been researching and writing about Kratom products for more than 5 years, and have a combined experience of over 35 years of writing in the healthcare and supplement industry. The team has a keen understanding of the topic, remain current on all FDA and industry news, and use their expertise to generate engaging and informative content to help educate consumers on Kats Botanicals’ products. Each article is fact-checked and includes sources to scientific data to ensure readers receive the most up-to-date and accurate information possible.

Reviewed By Justin Kats

Justin Kats, founder of Kats Botanicals reviews and approves all content before releasing it for posting on the Kats Botanical website. Justin has been a tireless advocate for the benefits of Kratom since 2012. As a champion for botanical therapy, Justin created a Facebook group where more than 12,000 people discuss botanicals, and Kratom. He has also assisted more than 80,000 customers since the inception of his business and works directly with a single source farmer to ensure the purity of the products he sells. He also performs rigorous lab testing because he understands what it takes to get a high-quality and safe product to market.

Share this post:


Kava Bar