East Village’s 11 Tigers Creates its Own Fusion ‘Moonshine’


March 8, 2023

11 Tigers bar

11 Tigers in the East Village, New York, is a hidden-in-plain-sight speakeasy, cocktail lounge and Japanese/Thai fusion restaurant that is making its own “moonshine.”

Speakeasies have been around since the 1920’s and have made a chic comeback in recent years in NYC’s nightlife. From secret passwords to hidden entrances, each one makes their mark with a differentiating element. But this upscale, late-night destination actually makes its own hooch in-house in the form of Thai-infused spirits and elixirs known as “Yadong.”

11 Tigers’ bar manager Patty Wongsak makes these libations each week, five types in total. The most popular one is 11 Tigers, from which the bar gets its name. The tribute to 11 Tigers Yadong is made from gin steeped with 11 types of herbs, including lime peel, lemongrass, basil, chlli, tamarind, star anise, and ginger. Wongsak also makes Lychee-infused vodka, Rosemary-infused gin, Japanese Green plum-infused tequila, Pandan-infused spiced rum and signature cocktails that feature the homemade Yadong.

The Yadong fermentation process takes two weeks.

“It could be less or more, depending on the temperature and freshness of herbs,” Wongsak said. “it’s like the scientific ‘osmosis principle.’ Fruits and vegetables contain water and sugar. When those molecules move to mix with liquor, it makes the liquor have a natural sweetness without adding sugar.”

11 Tigers is New York City’s first-ever speakeasy that infuses Japanese and Thai traditions. The marriage of these two culinary cultures is reflected in the speakeasy’s menu, which includes small plates like Crying Tiger Gyoza and Thai Larb Tuna as well as larger dishes like 11 Tigers Tom Yum Ramen — tonkatsu ramen with jumbo prawn — and Black Panther Curry, squid ink fettuccine in makrut lime scented Thai Panang curry topped with seared ribeye steak.

It’s a place where Thai sum yadong meets the Japanese izakaya with a healthy dash of American craft cocktails and sad, fierce, smoky and old-fashioned tigers frolic together. Several of the libations are made with yadong, a traditional Thai liqueur infused with herbs that have been used as a health tonic and social lubricant for generations.

This is part of the fabric of Thai culture. People gather at sum yadong or roadside stands to drink and socialize, just like folks gather at izakayas in Japan.

For more information, visit https://www.11tigersnyc.com/.