One of the most unique aspects of the new kombucha bar BKE is the menu. It not only shows what’s available, but gives a crash course on what goes into kombucha and the drink’s purported health benefits. The menu there comes complete with references and visuals.
“We want you to read about what’s going in your body,” says Saleena Subaiya, one of the founders of BKE. They told me that they felt like the “wellness zeitgeist has a lot of untruths that are used for marketing and we never want to do that.”
Subaiya says they are trying to filter out what [we] think is really worth people understanding [and] reading. Subaiya adds: “It’s hard for an average person to read a scientific article and understand if this study was done well or poorly”
Subaiya started the business with Lawrence Purpura, a doctor. They were both doctors. They met at a CDC conference and moved in together, spontaneously, after knowing each other for only for a couple of days. They started making kombucha in 2020, a business that has grown steadily since then.
“This kind of just happened in the background. It’s really taken on a life of its own” says Subaiya.
The new taproom the two opened feels intimate and stylish. Customers can actually look at the tools that Subaiya and Purpura use to make kombucha. The room was inspired by the establishment’s surrounding neighborhood. “I love the intersection of industrial and natural elements – hence the abundance of plants and our jungle inspired wallpaper” said Subaiya in an email. “I also wanted to bring in the brightness of my culture and those of the BIPOC community in New York.”
The room is floral to say the least: I spot a 30-year-old curry plant, jasmine plants, and others from the rainforests in South America. Subaiya said that they “wanted the taproom to visually represent the menu that it offers – an ethnobotanical journey through many cultures and philosophies.”
Their menu features seven core flavors and another six flavors that rotate with the season. One of their most popular flavors is sour cherry, which tastes like a Cherry Coke. They make it by blending the base kombucha with sour cherries. Another is a blend of cucumber, basil, and lime that comes across as refreshing, but not overpowering.
The BKE tap room is located at 310 Meserole Street.
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