Purple Lotus' Kratom-Laced Kava Drink: We Try It for Ourselves
I arrive at the Purple Lotus, which is tucked behind lush shrubbery on Swinton Avenue, a little before noon on a Wednesday just as it's opening.
Scianno shakes my hand and thanks me repeatedly for coming in. He tells a tall, shaggy-haired man behind the bar to make me the komodo, and within seconds, a coconut shell of brown, bubbling tea is put in front of me along with a glass of water.
"Bula!" someone from across the bar chimes as he sees me take the first sip. (It's Fijian for cheers.)
The drink tastes like dirt, and even though I've tried kava (sans kratom) before, the physical revulsion is surprising. I try not to grimace or dry-heave. I wait for kava to numb my lips and the inside of my mouth, then down the drink as fast as I can.
"Kratom doesn't make kava taste any different," Scianno says.
"It doesn't get better, you know," Miriam Martinez tells me as she sees my eyes start to water. A regular here, she's clasping a coconut shell decked out in rhinestones and a purple M. She tells me that she's a medical professional and that she comes to the bar four to five days a week for the komodo.
"Kava is an herb, like nature's Xanax," Martinez explains. "The komodo is a pick-me-up; it's full of energy. It keeps me going."
When I ask Martinez about the lawsuit filed against the bar, she shakes her head and smiles. "It's not a real thing!" she laughs. "It's like an alcoholic suing the bar."