Don’t ask me how I fell down the Google rabbit hole of researching drug-inspired beverages this weekend. The less said about that, the better.

Still it got me thinking about the kava plant—a natural sedative the Polynesians have been grinding up and blissing out on for years. Kava (sometimes called kava-kava) fans say it mellows them out without disrupting their mental clarity, which does sound kind of nice. Homeopathic doctors will prescribe it sometimes for nausea and insomnia.

Or you can have it in your soda. A little while back, a sody pop called Mary Jane’s hit the market. Or rather, it quietly shuffled up to the market and settled in to watch cartoons on the market’s sofa. The L.A. Times did a piece in 2009, but despite the rock-solid hook of associating itself with marijuana, Mary Jane’s doesn’t seem to have enjoyed as glitzy a rollout as, say, New Coke. I mean, have you heard of it?

The Relaxing Company, based in Denver, says Mary Jane’s is inspired by marijuana, but any chill-out effects arrive thanks to the fact that the pop is infused with kava.

This April James Norton, of the Supertaster blog on Chowhound, gave Mary Jane’s a test run:
“After drinking a bottle, I became seriously interested in sitting on the couch. My limbs felt heavier. I was notably less neurotic. This, of course, could be a placebo effect, so in the name of research, I did something not entirely wise: I worked Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda into an exercise-based experiment. I drank it on an empty stomach, then went to the gym. Lo and behold, my average heart rate was 10 to 20 beats per minute less than it usually is on the elliptical trainer. Highly unscientific, but there you have it.”

Mary Jane’s is not available in Washington stores. You can buy it online, provided the good people at The Relaxing Company get around to making some more. When I tried to order some on the website, it was all sold out. So if you want to test the effects of kava right away, try a kava collada at Fu Kun Wu, the apothecary bar in Ballard. I’ve had it, it’s good. I didn’t notice any effects other than the usual ones that come with drinking a strong cocktail. Still, Fu Kun Wu is an awesome bar so you’ll have fun there.

Straight kava is also available over the internet. Use your Google.

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