Purple Lotus' Kratom-Laced Kava Drink: We Try It for Ourselves

All photos taken by Jess Swanson.
The Komodo, the drink that sparked the South Florida kratom lawsuit. We had to try it for ourselves!

"I was hoping the press would come in," Purple Lotus Bar owner Jimmy Scianno says when I call him to ask about the komodo, a tea of ground kava and kratom leaves -- which is the most popular drink at his bar.

In October, Michael and Erica Siegel sued Scianno for negligence after they say they unwittingly drank kratom in the komodo. After falling into a downward spiral of addiction, the couple is now asking for $15,000 to pay for medical and rehab bills.

But kratom, an herbal leaf from Southeast Asia, is currently legal in Florida. So we tried the drink for ourselves.

See also: Lawsuit Claims Addiction to Purple Lotus Kava Bar's Kratom-Laced Drink

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Lawsuit Claims Addiction to Purple Lotus Kava Bar's Kratom-Laced Drink

All photos by Jess Swanson
This is the drink Erica Siegel was addicted to, and once we heard about it, we had to try it too!
"This is what $15,000 worth of kratom looks like," Michael Siegel remembers Purple Lotus Bar owner Jimmy Scianno saying as he lifted a brick of the brown powder over his head.

The bar then broke out in chatter. Some people just stared in awe. Others half-jokingly plotted ways to swipe the goods. Everyone kept sipping their murky tea of kava and kratom, their eyes peering over coconut-shell cups.

That was 18 months ago. Kratom's currently banned in Thailand, Australia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and recently Indiana and Tennessee. Kratom was legal in Florida then, and it still is now.

Some argue it weans addicts off stronger drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methadone, and others simply like the way it makes them feel. But then there's Michael Siegel, who believes that kratom ripped apart his family -- his wife, Erica Siegel, is currently at a rehab center in Boca Raton to combat her addiction to kratom, he says.

See also: Purple Lotus's Kratom-Laced Kava Drink: We Try For Ourselves

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Broward and Palm Beach Oktoberfest Round-Up: Beer, Wurst, and Lederhosen

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Oktoberfest: It's that time of year again.
Bratwurst, sweaty frauleins and huge mugs of brau: the three hallmarks of Oktoberfest we all hope for at this time of year. As if you ever needed anything more to party. Besides Halloween, South Floridians need a multi-week celebration to hold us over until Christmas.

This shouldn't be a problem as several parties will be blasting away for the next 30 days. It's time to grab the bierstein, don your lederhosen and get with the Oktoberfest spirit. Opportunities like these to halt your work-enslaved life making someone else rich do not come very often. Punctuate the banality and indulge in mass quantities of intoxicating feel-good poison, but on the other hand do it responsibly because the consequences are a bitch to pay.

See Also: Ten Best South Florida Craft Beers

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Eat the Tea Celebrates One-Year Anniversary on the Full Moon

All photos taken by Jess Swanson
The smiling owner of Eat the Tea pours a cup of tea.

Unexplained incidents are known to happen on the full moon. Dogs are more likely to attack, people find it harder to fall asleep, and Eat the Tea will celebrate its one-year anniversary this Thursday. The colorful tea shop also opened on the full moon last September, and owner Maureen Ruggeri raises her eyebrows at the coincidence. She holds to tea's mystical healing properties.

She serves her tea in a cup and saucer and with a spoon. The spoon can be used traditionally to stir, of course, but it's also intended to scoop the leftover leaves and fruit chunks sitting on the bottom, and, as the name suggests, to literally eat the tea -- rose petals, orange peels, and all.

See also: First Look: Eat the Tea in Victoria Park

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Project Mate Bar in Delray Beach Celebrates One Year Anniversary

All photos taken by Jess Swanson.
Co-owner of Project Mate Bar Daniele Flores drinks mate with the traditional gourd and bombilla.
European settlers did not discover the invigorating powers of Yerba Mate until the 17th century. But for almost two centuries before, the indigenous tribes of South America had been harvesting the Ilex paraguarensis tree and steeping its leaves for the sense of community it promoted.

Last year this mystical drink arrived in Delray Beach at Project Mate Bar. While yerba mate is available at health markets and Whole Foods, this bar is the first of its type in the South Florida, and maybe even the state. They're celebrating their one year anniversary Sunday night.

See also: Try the Inebriating Elixir at Mystic Water Kava Bar Before It's Banned

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Try the Inebriating Elixir at Mystic Water Kava Bar Before It's Banned

Jess Swanson
Smoke pot, get high. Down booze, get drunk. Drink kava, get rooted.
Intricately intertwined in the folklore of the South Pacific, islanders from this remote pocket of the globe would drink this intoxicating pepper root, kava, for its relaxing, blissful properties. It took almost 3,000 years for this potent plant to reach our shores. But now that it's here at the Mystic Water Kava Bar in Hollywood, it might not be here to stay.

It's already banned in Poland. And Portugal.

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New Year's Day Hangover Cures: Let's Get Scientific

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The Hangover: Part II (of Your New Year's Celebration)
Happy New Year! The over-priced parties, the drunk drivers, the immense pressure on the midnight kiss forever dividing the happily coupled from the desperately single... We hope it will be magical. But New Year's Day will remind you that you're 365 days older and less able to handle your liquor.

Your body might be a temple, but praying to the porcelain gods for mercy never saved anyone. To deal with a hangover, one must turn to science.

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Oktoberfest 2012 in South Florida: Celebrations in Lantana, Las Olas, Oakland Park, Boca, and Miami

Oktoberfest is here again, folks. It is the time of year to party like a German in brown leather pants, guzzling endless liters of barley and malt brews. We know -- sporting lederhosen in South Florida's penetrating heat is not a logistical reality, considering the risk of massive chaffing and potential for yeast infections. Traditional attire aside, one thing South Florida does right is throw a proper party. Prost!

Although our part of the country does not sport an extraordinary amount of German descendants, what it lacks in ancestral makeup, it makes up for in bacchanalian desire. Give us any old reason to throw a shindig --we dare you-- and we will be there, looking like beer wenches, swigging our mugs, no matter the occasion. So here we go, toasting to the marriage of some German prince from two hundred years ago. Sounds like a good excuse for a sizable hangover, right?

Look for the list of South Florida's top five Oktoberfest parties, after the jump.

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A Florida Rum Distillery, Dark and Stormy in a Can, and Other Drink Links

Read on for today's roundup of Floridacentric links. Today's focus is on drinks.

1. Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum will be the newest booze made in Florida. Created from molasses, water, sugar, and yeast and distilled in aged barrels, the first batches from Cape Coral will be ready by May and distributed by October. Wicked Dolphin will produce a white and an amber rum.

2. Created in 1917 in North Carolina, Cheerwine has developed a cult following. The bubbly, wild-cherry retro drink became available in Florida this past fall. Have you seen it? We've been looking for some. 

3. Also be on the lookout for the newest cocktail in a can, the Dark and Stormy. Made by Gosling, the 8.4-ounce can was released last month in the U.S., a combination of Gosling's Black Seal Rum and its Stormy Ginger Beer. CEO Malcolm Gosling said it's marketed to the "younger, trendsetting consumer" and "people on the go."

4. Fancy yourself a creative cocktail creator? The National Restaurant Association wants to see you make your drink. Upload a two-minute video of yourself making your signature cocktail by April 6 for a chance to be flown to Chicago to shake or stir live for Top Chef celeb Spike Mendelsohn and cocktail maven Dale DeGroff. It's for the International Wine, Spirits, and Beer Event on May 6 and offers the chance to win $5,000. Judging begins April 9. For more information, click here

5. Are you an "almost alcoholic"? The Atlantic addresses the drinking spectrum

New Times on Facebook | Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook | Melissa on Facebook | Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter | Melissa McCart on Twitter | E-mail Melissa |

St. Patrick's Day at The Village at Gulfstream Park: A Cocktail Recipe and Tons of Corned Beef

Burin Asavesna via Flickr Creative Commons
Just don't drink so many that your skin matches the cocktail.

How much food and beer can a crowd pack away on a day like St. Patrick's Day? Kurt Ditzler, general manager for Playwright Irish Pub at the Village at Gulfstream Park puts the estimate fairly high. "We're planning on going through a hundred pounds of corned beef and fifteen cases of potatoes," he said via email earlier this week. The Irish pub has fifteen kegs of Guinness in the cooler ready to satisfy those who won't be chugging the green beer.

Playwright is part of the Village at Gulfstream Park's "Second Floor Party" planned for Saturday. The action starts at 2 p.m., with Playwright and the Martini Bar offering food and drink specials and live Irish music 'til the wee hours of Sunday morning. Playwright will serve its biggest St. Patrick's Day sellers, Shepherd's pie and of course, corned beef and cabbage. An additional "Party at the Park" outside will have yet even more chances to listen to live music while imbibing your favorite Irish treats.

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