There’s more to nightlife on Florida’s Space Coast than sipping margaritas with an ocean view.
Not that we’re complaining about that option, but if you don’t drink alcohol or don’t want that next-day hangover to taint your vacation plans, then consider heading to Melbourne’s kava bar Island Root. Even if you're simply looking for a new and unique experience, it's worth a go.
Kava is a popular alternative drink in Florida — Photo courtesy of Island Root
Kava bars are relatively new in the United States, with the bulk of them located in Florida, according to Island Root. As more people discover this alcohol alternative, popularity is growing. And why wouldn't it?
Kava is a traditional South Pacific drink made out of a pepper plant root that is ground down and served cold, often in a coconut shell (or plastic version thereof). People who drink kava say it leaves them feeling completely relaxed and even a little euphoric, and the effects last a few hours – sometimes longer.
Some people even drink kava as a natural alternative to synthetic anxiety medication.
A local surfer opened Island Root in downtown Melbourne in 2011 under the name Kavasutra III, and it has grown so popular that in 2014, he opened a second north Melbourne location, Island Root II.
Island Root is open late at night — Photo courtesy of Island Root
But before you indulge, inform yourself. Kava is legal for people of any age to consume, although it’s worth noting there is some controversy around the drink, as well as kratom, a similar root that is also sometimes sold at kava bars. Specifically, there's concern that some kava-based products could harm the liver. In addition, you may feel drowsy or extra relaxed the next day.
At both Island Root locations, you can sit back in the relaxing atmosphere and sip a cold kava or kava tea. On hot summer days, some patrons enjoy the various flavors of frozen kava pops.
The bar also offers a variety of electronic cigarettes and a flavored oxygen station. So even if you don’t want to try kava, you can indulge in oxygen in the relaxed, alcohol-free atmosphere here.
Surf videos stream on large TVs throughout the bar, and chill music fills the air; you won’t feel rushed to get in and out. Stay and linger. No, really linger.
Island Root stays open late-late: until 4:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and until 3 a.m. on the other days.
Unsure what option is right for you? Ask the “kavatenders,” who are typically happy to talk about kava’s history, tradition, different strengths and options.
The bar also features regular specials and events, such as two-for-one shells every Tuesday. Plus, Wednesday night is ladies' night.