Albuquerque Journal

Shell out for a cup of kava

ABQ’s first kava bar celebrates grand opening

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal BY ALAINA MENCINGER JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Pureland Kava & Tea, which opened in April, is having its grand opening Saturday, with free tarot readings and a live glassblowing.

Mandy Vickery, owner of Pureland, lauds kava for making people feel “lifted and gifted” without some of the side effects of alcohol.

“As you get older, the hangovers don’t get any easier,” Vickery said. Pureland, located at 915 Yale SE., is Albuquerque’s first kava bar.

Vickery sells traditional kava, made of powdered kava and water, flavored kava drinks and kombucha. Customers can even take home full growlers of the drink.

Kava, a member of the pepper family, is native to the Pacific Islands. The plant is sacred in several Polynesian cultures; according to Vickery, some Polynesian groups would bring kava plants in their canoes when they traveled to new islands.

“They didn’t want to live on an island without kava,” Vickery said.

She tasted the root for the first time in 2008 in Florida, where kava bars are plentiful. Vickery had to get used to the taste, she said, but enjoyed the effect it had on her anxiety.

“It just kind of makes people feel giddy and little silly,” Vickery said. “But definitely most people realize that their shoulders are kind of ... lower than they were because it’s a natural muscle relaxer.”

She moved to Albuquerque from Indianapolis in 2020; Vickery sold her house in Indiana to finance her business. Albuquerque was appealing because it didn’t already have a kava bar.

Every customer gets their first “shell” of kava free at Pureland Kava. Traditionally, kava beverages were gulped (not sipped, due to its bitter taste) out of coconut shells, said Vickery, Although Pureland uses clear plastic cups, not coconut shells, the cups are still called shells.

She seals each purchase of kava with a cheer of “bula,” a Fijian word that celebrates good health.

“I want everybody to try it for free,” Vickery said.

Patrons 18 and up can order kava at Pureland. The drink isn’t recommended for pregnant women or people with Parkinson’s disease.

Vickery hopes that kava will become more well known around New Mexico. She said that another kava bar recently opened in Santa Fe.

“As a kava bar owner, I do welcome other kava bars eventually popping up,” Vickery said. “... The more people that know about the drinks, the more people will drink them.”





Albuquerque Journal