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New kava and kratom bar Alchemist Kava is set to open this month at Patriots Square off Tamiami Trail East in East Naples. Local teacher and skincare business owner Ashley Giannone, a Naples native, was inspired to open her own kava bar after experiencing the social, tight-knit kava community while pursuing her master’s degree. 

“You’ll definitely meet people of all walks of life, people have talks and thoughts and conversation. … I was also able to go on a regular basis while I was reading or finishing my master’s thesis,” Giannone said of her experiences at kava bars. “You can still be in that social setting, but it allows you to work and be aware of things around you, the community aspects and members.” 

Both kratom and kava come from Southeast Asia but have key differences. Kratom is plant-based and holds different effects based on the strain. Alchemist will offer four different strains of kratom, with effects ranging from energy boost, relaxation, mood enhancement and focus. These strains are then mixed into different floral flavors to make a botanical elixir.  

One cocktail Giannone is most excited to serve is the Red Lion, a kratom drink mixed with mango and lime juice, spicy mango syrup and jalapenos. 

“[Kratom] has that relaxing feeling without inhibiting your inhibitions. It doesn’t inhibit your vision or any of your motor skills,” Giannone said. “It’s a great alternative for those looking to wind down at the end of the day.” 

Kava is a member of the pepper family and is known for giving consumers more of a buzzed feeling compared to kratom. Alchemist’s kava is sourced from Fiji and will be paired with flavors, such as hazelnut, and added into oat or almond milk. The Sol Luna with peanut butter and chocolate along with Harvest Moon with strawberry syrup are kava elixirs customers can order off the menu. 

Giannone prioritizes quality in the products found in her drinks, with ingredients approved by the American Kratom and Kava associations. The simple syrups added to the elixirs are made in-house from scratch. 

“That’s how I live my life personally. If I could buy something that I know is sustainable and organic and it passes a lot of tests, then I’m more likely to do it,” she said. 

For those looking to enjoy something outside of the kava and kratom world, Alchemist Kava will partner with Bonita Springs-based coffee vender Grumpy Goat Coffee Roastery to serve iced coffee brews and pourovers, along with Cuban and Vietnamese coffees. 

“We figured we’ll have a little bit of coffee for those kava and kratom drinkers, and if they bring their friends who maybe don’t like kava or kratom, we’ll do a coffee that we’ll make in-house,” Giannone said. 

Grumpy Goat founder Brian Abernathy said his single-origin coffee will coincide well with the ingredients Alchemist Kava will be offering its customers. 

“I know quality is very important to [Giannone], so with everything I have — it’s all fully traceable — a lot of my coffee is certified organic and certified fair trade,” Abernathy said.So, it fits in perfectly with what she’s trying to do.” 

The name, Alchemist, was influenced by Giannone’s job as a middle school teacher. 

“Alchemy is sort of a precursor to chemistry, so we got really excited about the idea that these are beverages that essentially have the natural compounds to help people in various ways,” she said. 

The theme of alchemy can be seen throughout the menu drinks, including The Philosopher’s Stone and The Sorceress. Inside, customers will be greeted with a steampunk feel accompanied by concrete dark-stained floors and grey walls with hints of black and brown scattered throughout the 1,800-square-foot space. 

Giannone plans for the entryway of the bar to be a vendor showcase of local skincare products and art from local artists, and there will be a poetry corner for acoustic performers and open mic nights. With this addition she hopes to promote other local businesses and give back to the Naples community. 

“I’ve lived here my whole life. I went away for college and came back,” she said. “I know East Naples specifically is really looking for an area for young professionals and young adults to come hang out, and this is something that we’re seeking with our bar.” 

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