Kava is a beverage with a history that dates back over 3000 years. It comes from Polynesia, where it’s traditionally consumed in social and ceremonial settings because of its relaxing effects. It’s controversial and banned in some EU countries, but it’s had a recent surge of popularity Stateside, with Kava Bars popping up in New York, Miami, and San Francisco. New York’s first kava Bar,
in the East Village, opened last year.
Now, Bushwick is getting some Kava of its own. House of Kava had its soft opening last week, and just like the drink itself, the bar’s atmosphere is very relaxing. The new spot is the brainchild of long time friends and kava enthusiasts Joyci Borovsky and Alec Sepelyak. Borovsky and Sepelyak are native Floridians who moved to New York to for this very venture, found a little apartment on Central Ave, and converted it into the bar. Their grand opening is set for early March, though in the meantime, House of Kava will be open from 12pm to 12am on weekdays and 2am on weekends.
House of Kava will serve the bitter drink out of coconut halves with kiwi slice as a chaser (it’s necessary.) A 4 ounce cup will run you $5. The bar will also serve tea and coffee. Soon they will install a projector and present events running the gamut from movie nights to open mics to art events.
The fact that this space, located behind Bushwick Public House, used to be an apartment makes it feel all the more laid-back; it feels like one could be hanging in a friend’s living room. At the moment, it’s still in the last stages of renovation and some final decorating touches are not yet complete, but considering that the duo only secured the space in January, the transformation is impressive.
The two present the drink as “a good alternative to alcohol,” without debilitating effects such as memory loss or impaired judgement. It relaxes you but keeps your head clear (and Sepelyak emphasized that the effects are not comparable to marijuana). The effects of a drink lasts about 30 minutes, though unlike alcohol, weed or most other substances, kava has a “reverse tolerance” effect: a first-time user will have to have more of it to experience the same effects as a more regular kava drinker.
The kava process, as explained by House of Kava’s proprietors, is this: grind up the root into a fine powder and push it through water. “You’re putting your energy into what you’re making, so if you squeeze Kava with bad ju-ju, it’s not going to taste good,” Alec explains.
Talking to Sepelyak, it’s abundantly evident that he is passionate and knowledgeable about what he is serving. The pair opened this place because they’re genuinely invested in educating people on the therapeutic effects of Kava and providing their customers with a great experience.
The walls currently feature the works of mixed media painter Isaiah Gulino, but will soon feature other local artists as well. Sepelyak has a background in art, and wants to “make this as much of a gallery space as possible.”
It’s definitely worth popping in, trying a cup, and talking to the owners: it might even become your new favorite way to unwind after a long and stressful day.
So, raise your coconut shells and say “Bula” — to life!
House of Kava is located 238 Central Ave between Stanhope St & Stockholm St off the Central Ave stop on the M train. Its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 12pm to 12am and Friday through Sunday from 12pm to 2am.