If you find yourself wandering about the Commons (as one does), you might come across a rather nondescript door and you will think nothing of it. In fact, unless you’re an especially curious person, you’d probably just walk right on. That’s your first mistake; the inside of this door houses one of Ithaca’s more interesting establishments, the Sacred Root Kava Lounge.
“What is kava?” you may ask. You might even be googling it this very second. Patience, all will be revealed in good time. The inside of this establishment is decorated with weird paintings and odd statues all hinting at some kind of ritualistic proceeding where you can see or future or something equally ludicrous. For a second, you’re certain you’ve entered some kind of forbidden temple. Then, as you slowly begin to take in the surroundings, you realize, no, this isn’t a forbidden temple; this is actually just a chill place.
So you go up to the bar and the guy behind it asks you if you’d like to learn about kava, and naturally you say yes, because you still don’t know what it is. That’s your second mistake; the lecture is far too long, especially because after the first minute you know more than enough and you just want to try the damn thing. I’m going to save you some time and give you the salient points. Kava is a root from the Pacific Islands and it tastes like mud, but if you drink it you feel pretty relaxed.
So you get a bowl of kava with a ladle and some coconut shells (because real utensils don’t fit the vibe; try to keep up) and seat yourself. Now, you probably think you remember what mud tastes like from the one time you ate it when you were a kid, but you really don’t. It’s pretty bad. But you down your coconut shell anyway, amused to find a numbness in your mouth, eager to feel the calmness that you’ve heard so much about. So you go back for more and learn that there are chocolate and vanilla versions of this drink, which cost a little more. Your third mistake would be ordering these; vanilla-flavored mud is still mud.
Now here’s the question: How many shells do you have to down before you start feeling it? This is where kava enthusiasts (my friends who’ve tried it once) disagree. Some say three or four is more than enough, and some will be drinking their seventh and still feel nothing. Similar to another popular beverage we are all familiar with, it depends on the person. Does it really work? I’m inclined to say yes, but I also believe that the experience and the atmosphere of the lounge plays an important role in getting you relaxed.
My advice would be to plan your visit in order to wind down and relax after a fun evening and not to expect it to be like going to a bar or pub. You can’t drink away your troubles with kava, but it’s definitely a healthier alternative. Now I don’t know that for a fact but nothing that tastes that bad could possibly be anything but good for you.