Thailand bans street liquor ‘yadong’ after toad venom deaths

Street stalls selling traditional herbal moonshine must be watching their backs now as the drink, called yadong, has been declared illegal, and a serious crackdown has been threatened. 

After a particularly funky variant made with toad’s venom was blamed for two fatalities in Chonburi, the Excise Department on Friday said all yadong street stalls are illegal and those operating them face fines of up to THB50,000 (US$1,650). 

Mixing alcoholic beverages – even if taxed – with Thai herbs and selling yadong on the street is illegal as they’re considered bootlegged contraband that hasn’t passed quality and safety controls, Nattakorn Utensut of the department Tax Planning Office said Friday. 

Those selling yadong made from liquor who’ve paid their taxes face a THB5,000 fine while those who have not will be fined 10 times more – THB50,000.

This year alone, Nattakorn said, the Excise Department has arrested more than 4,000 people and confiscated 3,145 liters of the stuff.

The ban came a few days after at least two men in Chonburi province reportedly died after drinking kangkok yadong, a concoction mixing toad venom with the usual rice whiskey. Several others who drank from the same batch had to be hospitalized.

Doctors said they found in the dead mens’ bodies quantities of methanol, that old bugaboo of moonshine which can famously make people go blind. So we’re assuming the toad venom was totally kosher.

Why toad venom? Heard of toad-licking? Though such traditions predate the internet, that fine vessel of knowledge indicates it has (again) become a psychedelic drug fad some say gives a gnarly trip for about 45 minutes to an hour. 

In Western tabloids, venomheads describe it as a “powerful religious-experience-style trip.” One user described toad venom to the New York Post as “a total fusion with God.”

“It was as though I was swimming in an ocean of myself,” one user said of smoking toad venom. “The intensity was beyond belief.”

So, there’s that.


Thaisho: Bangkok’s new bar for yadong-infused drinks 

Fruity yadong flight and classic Thai dishes at Mahanaga 

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