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Is Kava The New Alcohol?


Hi Guys!

I’ve neglected posting on the blog for so long. I’ve missed it here! I really haven’t ignored blogging on purpose, but last week I was traveling on St. John in the USVI (totally amaze, I’ve been to tons of places and this spot is my favorite. It just one of those places that feels like home.) I had an intention to work a little while there, but didn’t force it. We ended up filling up our days with adventure morning to night. I was barely ever at our cute apartment to even do so.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been catching up on all of my other work priorities (I am a freelance marketer by day) and my client base is growing. Woo! It is both awesome and overwhelming. Now I have to more carefully prioritize time for buddha and bananas. I really only work well under pressure anyway.


A few weeks ago my friend Michelle and I tried Kava, which I shared on my Instagram. I’ve heard about Kava a few times, and lately felt intrigued to try it. (It is a goal of mine to try new things regularly – both in life and for buddha and bananas research purposes, so more stories on cool wellness trends to come 🙂 ). We went to a Kava Bar local to us in NYC. The affect it had on each of us was super different, to say the least.

What is Kava?

Kava is a South Pacific root that has been consumed socially and ceremonially for over 3,000 years. The stems and shrubs are mixed with water and made into a psychoactive beverage that is said to be linked to fighting stress, reducing anxiety and promoting an overall calming and euphoric experience. I was recently putting myself under a ton of emotional stress and anxiety, which is probably why I felt called to try Kava at that time.

What are the effects of Kava?

Kava has been marketed as a natural herbal remedy for stress, anxiety and insomnia. It’s popularity continues to grow and its effects are often compared to alcohol. (There was a sign outside of the Kava bar we went to that read “Kava is the new alcohol”.)

It gives you a heightened awareness and sense of calming, but is different than alcohol in that your thoughts remain clear. Many people use alcohol as an escape from their thoughts, which is a large reason I have cut back over the recent months. This doesn’t at all mean I gave up or am giving up drinking, but I just don’t always enjoy not being clear and in control. I say this as I just spent 7 days feasting and drinking like a fish in the Caribbean, so you know, balance 😉

My Kava Experience

After recruiting my friend Michelle to join me in kava adventures, we found a kava bar in NYC a train ride away. They’re called Kava bars because they’re actually bars. The experience kind of mimics that of alcohol, where everyone sits around a bar and orders a drink. The place we went to is actually open until 2am, which is a cool alternative for night owls needing a non-alcoholic hang out spot.

We walked in and the space was super tiny but we managed to get two seats at the bar, after having to ask two other patrons to play musical chairs in order to make room for us. It seemed like most people were actually there alone, just stopping by to get a drink of Kava. But there was another dynamic that a lot of the customers were regulars and all knew each other.

Being newbies, we had no idea what we were doing. We were given a menu and told that Kava has a reverse tolerance affect and you start out with a higher tolerance. Apparently, as you get used to Kava your body becomes more sensitive to the affects. That being said, he pointed out two choices that beginners usually get. On the board they listed the drinks in order of highest potency to least. Michelle opted for the highest, rightfully called “The Punch in the Face”. I got the second one down. I can’t remember the name, but I believe it was a double dose.

How much does Kava cost? Shit ain’t cheap. My one drink cost $20 and hers $25. This is more than an average alcoholic bev, but also keep in mind we were in New York City. I’d imagine in other locations it would be cheaper.

We were given the drinks with a pineapple on the side. We were instructed to drink it down quick and not to sip it. Then to use the pineapple as a chaser. (The pic above is of my Kava drink with pineapple side).

How does Kava taste?  If I had to use one word, Earthy. I didn’t really mind it. I enjoy Earth flavors. Michelle hated it. It’s not super pungent, but it just has an Earthy root taste that I imagine you can easily get used to. We were happy to have the pineapple.

After drinking we just chilled out. The immediate affect we both felt was a numbness on our tongues. Michelle noticed hers as she was sipping, mine came soon after. Our tongues and mouths felt numb for a short while. We didn’t know what to expect so at first weren’t sure if we would even feel any other affects. Smoothly but kind of out of no where we both looked at each other with the recognition “I feel it”.

The feeling we felt is truly hard to describe. (The Kavasutra site admits “the effect it will have on you must be experienced to be truly understood.”) Mentally I felt happy and calm, but my body also felt the affects. I can compare it most to the high you get from eating an edible. It was a body high, but my mind felt clear. I wasn’t foggy, but just kind of felt loose and chill. We stayed at the bar for a bit to let the affects sink in. At times we were the only people there speaking, which I kind of thought was weird. But I guess everyone was just doing their own chill thing. It’s not as aggressively social of a drink as alcohol.

I had one major confusion about the environment of this Kava bar. Everything was cool, but they were loudly blasting classical music and I couldn’t get used to it. I kept hoping the next song would be something way more chill, but nope. What sounded like Beethoven was blasting in my ear again. Totally confused by that. I guess it could have been worse. I am a music Nazi.

So, up until this point we both agreed on the affects of Kava. We noticed a change, but nothing life altering and we felt ready to be city slicking again through the East Village. We decided to stop for food on the way back to the train. We sat and ate chicken sandwiches at Fuku and this is when Michelle started feeling super weird. She said she was feeling legit stoned at first. She assured me she was fine, but just that the affects were getting heavier on her. I kind of felt the same as at first and was just enjoying eating my spicy chicken delicacy by David Chang.

As we walked to the train, Michelle was speaking of feeling more and more f*cked up. She wasn’t out of her mind or anything, but said her body started feeling drunk off alcohol and she wasn’t walking steady. I, too, felt a bit wobbly and jello legs (but I kind of liked it).

We navigated our way back to NJ and got in an Uber home. The next day Michelle completely forgot about the Uber and thought we took the NJ train home. Not sure if that is due to a kava black out or from having her head in the clouds. hehe.

Conclusion of our Kava chronicles: Michelle definitely felt it stronger than I did, but her drink was also labeled “Punch in The Face”. I overall enjoyed it and am ready to try it again to compare the experience. I’m down for anything that is supposed to make me feel good without ruining my conscious mind and physical body.

Many of you may be wondering…

Is Kava Safe?

There is actually extensive clinical research on Kava that supports it’s use if taken responsibly. It has been used for thousands of years and is legal in the U.S. I’m no doctor, but I felt completely fine taking it.

That being said, alcohol is also legal and can easily be lethal, so do everything after your own research and at your own risk.

If there is no Kava bar near you and you’d like to try it, you can buy some on Amazon. I haven’t done this, but may in the future.

So, what do you all think!? Does Kava sound crazy or cool? If anyone is down for another Kava adventure with me, let me know!

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