Roots Kava Bar opens in the village of Port Jefferson

By Carolyn Sackstein

Roots Kava Bar owner Robert Dunn celebrated the grand opening of Port Jefferson’s newest drinking establishment with family and friends when it opened doors at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 19.

The cheering crowd mingled and enjoyed the cozy and comfortable seating in the rear lounge and front self-serve area of ​​the kava pub.

Robert Dunn inside the new Roots Kava Bar in Port Jeff. Photo by Carolyn Sackstein

Most of the guests were familiar with kava, a drink used as a substitute for alcohol. The owner wanted to create an environment where non-drinkers could socialize over drinks and not experience the ill effects of alcohol. The decoration is a pleasant mix of black walls, metal and wood. The serving bar is a natural plank with a live edge that echoes the natural drink theme.

For the uninitiated, kava is a drink made from the root of the kava kava plant (Piper methysticum) native to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands.

Kava is believed to relieve stress, help relieve chronic pain, improve mood, increase energy and focus. The root is ground into a powder, soaked in water, then strained. Kava has sedative and anesthetic properties which can produce a numbing sensation in the lips and mouth.

A feeling of calm or euphoria is experienced by those who drink. Kava has been used in Fiji, Hawaii and elsewhere for perhaps 3,000 years in religious ceremonies and to welcome guests of honor.

The flavor of the raw drink has an earthy, rather grassy taste. Many find the taste quite pleasant. For those who don’t like the raw taste, Dunn or Alyssa Chaikin, the bar manager, will be happy to personalize the service by adding flavorings like lemon or raspberry syrups. A popular choice is the cinnamon toast option. The kava bar also serves commercially produced kava and kratom drinks in cans and bottles.

Sunday afternoon, a family came with their two children. Due to the sedative properties of the root, the only drink that could be served to children was kombucha. The kids enjoyed the commercially produced bottle of this fermented soft drink. Dunn is exploring adding a wider selection of products to suit a wider audience, but the focus is on an adult clientele who want to chill with friends over an adult drink while avoiding the alcohol and its harmful effects.

Customers can purchase a 12 oz. a bottle or growler ($5 bottle deposit) of drinks prepared on site so they can be enjoyed at home. One can also buy brand name products such as Leilo, Kin Euphorics, Psychedelic Water and Stay Cool CBD.

Sunday afternoon customers felt very satisfied with their experience. Angela Contratti from Nesconset had a bowl of bula. “I feel a little floaty,” she said. “It’s a very good alternative to alcohol. My expectations were low coming here, but I leave feeling “wow”.

Roots’ new sign hangs where BYOG and East Main & Main once stood. Photo by Carolyn Sackstein

As with all herbal supplements and nutraceuticals, keep in mind that there are concerns about purity and adverse interactions with any medications one might be taking. Dunn uses kava root powders that have been third party lab tested to ensure quality. He and his staff gladly provide customers with product information and describe the effects one can experience when using the drinks.

People who have medical conditions, who are pregnant or nursing, or who are taking medications are advised to consult with their health care provider to determine any contraindications or adverse drug interactions. Bill Hatfield, a licensed clinical social worker who has been counseling clients recovering from addiction for years, suggests people be cautious before trying kratom. Although kratom is currently legal in New York State, in his experience, clients who have been sober for a long time have relapsed after trying kratom. That said, the kava bar seems to be experiencing a positive buzz within the community.

Roots Kava Bar is located at 250 E. Main St., Port Jefferson. Opening hours are from noon to midnight. Holidays may have modified hours. For more information, call 631-831-4887.