WOO or EW: LaHiki Kava Bar in Pahoa, HI


You bet your asana I’m going in!

In the southeastern quadrant of the hippie vortex that is the Big Island of Hawaii is the town that time and deodorant forgot called Pahoa Village. Halfway down the main drag is a tripped-out crunch-tastic oasis called LaHiki Kava Bar. When I asked what to get, a surfer named Five asked me “What are you searching for?” Instead of saying “A job that doesn’t involve selling Nesquik to poor Hispanic moms” I said “Can I try the Cloud Nine Kombucha?” Five smiled with his heart chakra and poured me a pint. Then he said he liked my energy which made me want to buy even more things from him. Here’s a rundown of my favs:

Kombucha: This is a widely available fermented drink made from bacteria called a SCOBY that looks like a blob of phlegm. It’s between 0.5% – 3% alcohol and has a sweet-and-sourish taste. It’s lauded as a balancing “health tonic” but it also has a lot of sugar so, you know, tomato tomahto. This place had like twenty flavors on tap including Pumpkin Spice and Horny Goat. My fav was the Durian fruit brew that smelled like garlic and rotten eggs but tasted like world domination.

Kava with Waka: This is a traditional “relaxing” Polynesian root drink that’s been consumed for thousands of years. It was used as a mild anesthetic back in the day and when you drink it your lips get numb. Kava looks and tastes like mud, but is praised for its healing properties. According to the internet, there have beendebatable claims that derivatives can cause liver failure. According to my new bestie Five, Kava is awesome and good for you. Adding Waka (which is Kava extract) intensifies the effects. I can’t say whether it was the murky brew itself or the act of sipping magic mud out of a coconut at a heady hot spot 600 miles from my desk, but I was so relaxed that I ALMOST broke down and used the word chillaxed.

Kava: mud you can drink

Kava: mud you can drink.

Tulsi Tea: This is basically ginger fire water made locally by an old guy who lives up by the Volcano—apparently his recipe is the absolute tits. Ginger has long been used for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a digestive aid, so I was super pumped to try this. One sip and my heart was pounding and I was sweating a little. Do I want more? No. Am I glad I tried it? Yes. The woman next to me was drinking a pint glass of this local swill which made me feel like a pussy-ass haole.

The shot of Tulsi Tea I couldn’t finish

The shot of Tulsi Tea I couldn’t finish.

Chaga Frost: According to Five, Chaga is like the James Franco of herbs: it does everything. He popped some in a Nutribullet, added ice and local honeycomb, and the result was a mild, musty, mushroomy smoothie that supposedly triggers the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Definitely tastier than Kava, but not what you’d call “delicious.”

Chaga Frost: A mushroothie

Chaga Frost: A mushroothie.

Verdict: WOO. Bigtime. If Five opened a Santa Monica location, he would CRUSH IT. But also his soul would shrivel up and die. Mahalo brosef.

If you go: Hurry up! At press, the town of Pahoa is in the path of a slow-movinglava flow and the whole place might not exist next week. So book a flight to Hilo and get your Tulsi on TODAY.

If you don’t go: You can order your own Kava, Chaga, and/or Kombucha brewing kit from the interwebs. No idea where to get Tulsi.