The first time I had kava, I was sitting behind a pizza booth at a music festival with a group of (very kind) strangers. Polynesians have ceremonially consumed the root juice for 3,000 years for its sedative and muscle relaxant effects. Kava is also routinely used as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia, which is why it’s commonly seen in “bedtime” and “stress relief” teas.
So when some guy walked back to his camp— which was located only several feet away, because he was part of the pizza staff—and brought back a wide, shallow cup filled with a brownish/grey liquid, people were thrilled.
“Do you guys want some Kava?” he asked the group.
The people in the circle gasped. Some yelled in excitement, while others were too stoned to give a real response. We were about to have a Kava ceremony. By the time I drank the murky liquid and passed it on, my lips, tongue and throat were numb, and a tingling sensation rolled down my arms. I felt like I was floating on rainbow clouds and living in a stress-free tropical universe, even though there were no psychoactive effects. So, obviously, when I found out Mystic Water Kava Bar opened in Orange County, I was highly intrigued.
Tucked in a nook of the Old World Village in Huntington Beach is this tiny bohemian oasis, with Native American art and sacred geometric paintings on the walls. Sweeping plants with long vines hang from the ceiling, and a tree cuts through the center of the room, giving it an earthy feel. The Mystic Water Kava Bar is the local jungle-teleport, bringing a new-age mystical vibe to the bucolic, maze-like plaza.
If you’re looking to grab a coffee or a bite to eat—this isn’t the place for you, because the only option on the menu is Kava. Also, if you think hippies are fools and hate the sitar or didgeridoo, don’t go to Mystic Water. But if you’re looking to strike up conversation about transcendental meditation, have esoteric philosophical debates (or are at least open minded/patient enough to withstand those conversations), or buy unique art, Mystic Water will likely become your favorite health-conscious watering hole.
The Kava at Mystic Water is kept in a refrigerated stainless steel vat. My Kava was served in a turtle-shaped bowl and from there it was scooped out into a coconut-shell cup. Drinking Kava from a coconut is traditionally how the root’s been consumed for thousands of years, making Mystic Water exceedingly authentic.
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Keeping with tradition, however, Kava isn’t something you sip on—it’s something you down in order to get the full effects. So as soon as my Kava was served, I toasted the owner and knocked it back. The taste of the root juice is something like pencil shavings or wood chips, and it has a heavy texture. But it’s not foul by any means; indeed, I drank nearly six servings of Kava and I’m sensitive to tastes, so it’s definitely drinkable.
But after six helpings of Kava, that “I-feel-like-I’m-walking-on-rainbows” feeling was in full effect. This feeling is commonly referred to as "Krunk," meaning Kava-drunk. I couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin from my face and most of my stresses had melted away—I was Krunk as hell. Or, in the spirit of the Dead Kennedy's, I was too Krunk to funk.
The fact more Kava bars don’t yet exist in a high-stress concrete jungle like Orange County is shocking. If you’re looking to blow off steam, but don’t want the hangover effects tomorrow, Mystic Water might change your life. It’s like drinking a massage in a cup.
Mystic Kava Water Bar, 7561 Center Ave. #6, Huntington Beach, (657) 227-7928; www.mysticwaterkavabar.com