There’s a Secret Yakuza Cocktail Menu in San Francisco and We Know All of Its Secrets

Pabu's Yakuza Cocktails

Kevin McCullough

By Justine Sterling Posted October 08, 2015

For most people, the yakuza (members of Japan’s violent, mafia-esque crime syndicate) inspire fear. For the bartenders at Michael Mina’s Pabu in San Francisco, they inspire an appropriately secret cocktail menu.

For most people, the yakuza (members of Japan’s violent, mafia-esque crime syndicate) inspire fear. For the bartenders at Michael Mina’s Pabu in San Francisco, they inspire an appropriately secret cocktail menu.

Rolled up and stashed in a whiskey bottle behind the bar (so only those in the know will spot it and ask to see it), the Yakuza menu features six three-ingredient cocktails all made with a Japanese whiskey, tea and a modifier. It’s not just the secretive nature of the menu that connects back to the yakuza. The cocktail names are all inspired by parts of yakuza culture, lore and history.

Here, the full secret Yakuza menu at Pabu:

8-9-3
The name refers to a losing hand in a Japanese card game from which the word, “yakuza," originates. In Japanese, the numbers translate to yattsu, ku, san, which, when slammed together, become yakuza. The drink is an herbaceous, soothing mix of Hibiki Harmony whiskey, chamomile tea and Benedictine.

Wandering Samurai
The yakuza were originally listless samurais who had nothing to do during times of peace. These wandering samurais joined together and formed gangs, which eventually comprised the yakuza. The cocktail is a mix of Akashi White Oak blended whiskey, rose tea and crème de violette.

Kabukimono
The group of wandering samurai were referred to as kabukimono, which roughly translates to “crazy ones.” They were known for dressing flamboyantly and terrorizing towns. A blend of Akashi White Oak blended whiskey, jasmine tea and lemongrass falernum, the cocktail is bright and floral.

Mr. Fingers
Disturbingly, this cocktail is named for the doctor who supplied the yakuza with prosthetic fingers. Why the need for a constant supply of fingers? When a yakuza member does something wrong, they atone by chopping off part of a finger. Eventually, after a few more transgressions, the member is left in need of a fake digit from Mr. Fingers. This drink is the exception to the three-ingredient rule. It’s made with Iwai blended whiskey, rooibos tea, Campari and Aperol.

Gokudo
“Gokudo” is a slang term for a member of the yakuza. The drink is made with an unusual mix of Iwai blended whiskey, lychee tea and crème de framboise.

Sokaiya
The sokaiya is a specialized section of the yakuza, which extorts money from companies by threatening to publicly humiliate the management. The cocktail is made with bitter Sencha green tea, smooth Hibiki Harmony whiskey and spicy housemade ginger liqueur.

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