To Go Box: Coffee + cocktail bar The Wet Whistle opens downtown; Coeur d’Alene gets a kava bar

click to enlarge The Wet Whistle offers coffee, sandwiches, cocktails and more. - TESS FARNSWORTH PHOTOGRAPHY

Tess Farnsworth Photography

The Wet Whistle offers coffee, sandwiches, cocktails and more.

Curtains in the window are a good sign that a place is going to have a homey feeling, which the Wet Whistle (210 N. Howard St.) certainly does. Pop in for a cup of DOMA brand coffee or a chai tea after your morning walk through nearby Riverfront Park. And yes, you definitely earned a little something sweet to go with it, like desserts from Spokane Valley’s Breaüxdoo Bakery.

For a more substantial snack, order a bagel with lox and cream cheese ($12) or the Little Italy ($9) with mozzarella, tomato, basil, balsamic glaze, arugula and herbed oil. Need to stay away from bread? Ask to have your sandwich on a bed of spinach or arugula, no up-charge. Flatbreads ($10-$11) are the perfect size for sharing, like the Carnivore with pepperoni, bacon, sausage, mozzarella and a drizzle of spiced honey for that irresistible sweet-savory flavor combo.

Rather have a cocktail than a cuppa? Try the Hemingway ($9) with light rum and grapefruit or the Beehive ($11) with gin, honey, lavender, lemon and prosecco. Several drinks pay tribute to the region’s railroad history, including the Gandy Dancer ($10) with bourbon and blackberry; its name honors the hardworking folks who laid the heavy railroad tracks.

Train references abound at the Wet Whistle, which Jessica Ruddach-Mosely opened with her father Jim Ruddach in the former Indaba location. Ruddach-Mosely also runs the Whistle Stop Café in Spokane Valley (16409 E. Sprague Ave.). Visit

click to enlarge An Inland Kava Bar "cocktail," minus the alcohol. - COURTESY INLAND KAVA BAR

Courtesy Inland Kava Bar

An Inland Kava Bar “cocktail,” minus the alcohol.

Have you heard the buzz from Coeur d’Alene? The new Inland Kava Bar (1520 N. Government Way, Suite C) is not like any bar you’ve been to — they don’t serve alcohol. Instead, the drinks-only establishment serves coffee and beverages incorporating something called “K tea,” as well as kava.

What is kava? From the Tongan word meaning bitter, kava is derived from the crushed root of the piper methysticum or “intoxicating pepper” plant. It grows in Pacific Island locations such as Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand, and is an important part of many Polynesian cultural traditions.

On its own, kava extract can be mild to quite bitter, even chalky. But it can also be mixed with other things to alter the taste. Inland Kava’s mixed drinks ($8) include Border Crossing, which combines brewed kava and spiced Mexican chocolate, while the Dream Cream includes kava extract, orange soda and cream. Or try it plain, served in a metal bowl ($4 for 4 ounces, $8 for 6 ounces).

Depending on how it’s processed, or its country of origin, kava can produce different effects. Inland Kava Bar rotates several varieties, according to Nathan Rogers, who opened the place with his wife Ginger in December 2021. The couple also owns herbal medicine store Inland Botanicals next door.

Inland Kava customers can choose which kava variety they’d like, either alone or mixed into a beverage. According to Nathan, Vanuatu kava is “more of a heady kava” promoting body relaxation and euphoric feelings, while Tongan kava “is calm and balanced with social and creative aspects.” Kava from Fiji, meanwhile, “provides muscle relaxation and somewhat of a floating feeling with some social aspects.”

“K tea” at Inland Kava also contains kratom, an extract of an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. Traditionally, kratom leaves could also be chewed to gain a stimulative effect, depending on the dosage. Inland Kava mixes its K tea with tomato juice for a Krazy Mary, and with pineapple juice and blue curacao for the Iguana ($5/single, $7/double). Try it with fruit punch in The OG ($4/single, $6/double).

Entertainment at the bar, open to ages 18 and up, includes a karaoke machine, live music and a rave-type vibe with black lights and neon. The bar owners hope to add an outdoor seating area and lawn games when the weather warms. Visit

To Go Box is the Inlander’s regular dining news column, offering tasty tidbits and updates on the region’s food and drink scene. Send tips and updates to [email protected].

Article Source: Inlander