Bar Review – Mobile Kava Bar
It’s no secret that the most highly read article in our PLN newsletters are our Bar Reviews. Sadly, COVID lockdowns have hampered our efforts to try every bar across the Pacific and give you the need to know information on where to eat and drink.
The lockdowns have forced innovation on the PLN team and a significant pivot to our Bar Review column. Damian Kelly earlier this year ventured into unchartered territory, undertaking PLN’s first home bar review in Not Quite Casablanca.
Inspired by Damian, along with Pita’s efforts to tackle the COVID doldrums through baking just about everything in What I learnt in COVID lockdown: Take a Break, Bake a Cake, our very own Feizal Haniff has taken bar visits to the next level by building a mobile grog bar!
With this development, we are very pleased to bring you Haniff Tuitoga’s first contribution to PLN’s Bar Review: the Fiji edition.
For those of you who don’t know, Feizal is somewhat of a home handyman and has taken the extra hours through COVID lockdowns to clean, sand, paint, varnish and polish just about everything in his house!
His latest project is a mobile grog bar, for sampling some of Fiji’s finest Kava. The top, made from an exquisite hardwood, with a Tanoa sitting atop will create an ambient atmosphere for socialising. And with the inclusion of wheels for mobility, this bar will be the feature piece of furniture in any room of your household.
Kava (or Yaqona as it is known in Fiji) is ubiquitous across the Pacific. A beverage made from the pounded root of the Kava plant, it has become an increasingly popular export product from the Pacific for its medicinal properties, as it is known to reduce stress, anxiety and boost sleep.
In 2019 around FJ32$ million of Kava was internationally exported making it Fijj’s seventh largest export. The growing popularity of Kava has spurred Kava bars in Fiji and abroad and of course, Feizal’s mobile grog bar.
In Fiji, Kava remains instilled in traditional culture, as it is consumed in any number of traditional ceremonies and is still very much a part of everyday living in Fiji through the infamous “grog sessions” and of course the late night “washdown bar”.
Kava drinking is usually a highly social activity as people gather around the Tanoa to talanoa into the early hours of the morning. Of course COVID and the need for social distancing has impacted on these practices and many Fijians have had to adapt. However, through Zoom Kava sessions and BYO bilos, having a tipple at home of Fiji’s finest brew is still possible.
If you ask Fijians about their favourite source of Kava, many have a decided preference – some tell me Kadavu, others Savusavu.
My Kava palette is too ill-refined to be able to tell the difference, but I can say it tastes a little like muddy water that numbs your tongue. I am also reliably informed that to quash the muddy taste a “chaser” of soft drink or a lollypop is best.
When asked, Feizal remained coy about his secret Kava source, however he is hopeful to have his mobile grog bar ready for when curfew is eventually lifted. “At the moment, it is only half finished. I’ve ordered some coconut wood panels for the side”, he says.
Knowing Tomasi Tuitoga’s penchant for Kava, I have no doubt that Feizal’s mobile grog bar, quite like the John Ridgway Qantas Trolley bar in the Sydney office, will become a feature in our new offices at Vesi Street and that many fruitful late night team strategy sessions will be held around the Tanoa when we can once again meet.