Cayo’s Kombucha manager Omar Martinez is a true believer in the healthful effects of the ancient brew known as kombucha. AMY PATTON/Keys Weekly

Have you been thirsting lately for a sparkling, invigorating cup of “booch?” I’m talking about the non-alcohol libation kombucha. 

It’s a fermented drink that’s full of bacteria and yeast, comes in a wide variety of flavors and has been widely touted as the “tea of immortality” for centuries. Millions of its sippers swear by the formulation that is said to both invigorate the system and help strike a balance between the good and bad living microorganisms in the human gut. 

So where can one find such a restorative, ancient non-alcohol cocktail? Right here in Key West, there’s a new place to find it: Cayo’s Kombucha Teahouse and Cafe, a cozy retreat at 1026 Truman Ave. 

Cayo’s Kombucha is the brainchild and passion of local nurse practitioner Raquel Cecil, who is fully vested in her belief that kombucha products have a place in Key West as an alternative to alcohol, unhealthy sugary sodas and other commercial drinks. 

“We created the space not only for the benefit of drinking less alcohol but to replace drinking with a superfood alternative that promotes gut health, but most importantly, improves brain function,” she said. 

Cecil explained that, as a fermented tea beverage, kombucha is made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast to a solution of tea and sugar. As the fermentation process revs up gradually, those cultures metabolize the sugar/tea blend to render — tada! — a naturally carbonated beverage. “Our drinks are full of healthful components like B vitamins, organic acids, antioxidants and a tiny trace of alcohol,” she said. 

On a recent visit to the cafe I met the friendly server and manager Omar Martinez, who served up a taste test of some of the offerings on tap: a fizzy, fruit-flavored variety of kombucha was light and refreshing, slightly sweet and tart. 

Cayo’s Kombucha offers several flavors of canned and draft kombucha at 1026 Truman Ave., (across from Bare Assets). AMY PATTON/Keys Weekly

“Drinking kombucha is truly a lifestyle,” Martinez said. “You really have to consume some form of kombucha every day to fully feel the benefits.” 

No time to sit down for a glass at the bar? No problem. Cayo’s sells cans of the healthy stuff that can be purchased to go. Packaged snacks with healthful ingredients are also for sale at the shop. 

Cecil has a long history promoting the use of alternative natural organics. Originally from Colorado, the nurse has called Key West home for nearly five years, and her history in the health care field spans over 20 years. She and her family wanted to make a positive impact on the island by offering non-alcoholic options to the community. She fell in love with kombucha

years ago as she witnessed the positive benefits it had on her own digestive issues and health as well as those around her. Besides the liquid offerings on tap at Cayo’s are a selection of mushroom coffees and adaptogen and nootropic products as well as some healthy vegan snacks. 

“Everything we have here is small-batch, handpicked, raw and locally sourced,” Cecil said. 

Bars without the booze are becoming increasingly popular in resort cities like Key West that are often notorious — fortunately or unfortunately — for the spectacular volume of alcohol imbibing. Those seeking a sober moment or two can visit the kava clubs, coffee joints in and around Old Town and, now, Cayo’s Kombucha.

Check out the cafe’s 25 flavors of refreshing kombucha, with many varieties served on tap. 

Cecil swears by the benefits that balance the body’s “microbiome” and brain chemistry. Not to mention the fun of getting all this goodness in a tasty and refreshing drink.

So give your body a break from the booze and head over to Cayo’s Kombucha for a “shot” or two of the shop’s unique flavors of kombucha. 

“Here you’ll find a community space where you can meet neighbors and strangers with whom to share a chat and a delicious non-alcoholic drink,” Cecil said. Visit kombuchakeywest.com to find out more or call 305-619-6737 for shop hours.

Amy Patton is a recently transplanted writer from Southampton, New York, where she served for two decades as the culture editor for The Independent weekly in addition to her work as a correspondent for NY Newsday and the Sag Harbor Express. In short, she swapped her snow shovel for a beach chair in Key West.