The Lower East Side Gets Loko: Eddie Huang’s Xiao Ye Serves Up Controversial Caffeinated Malt Liquor

story xlimage 2010 11 r4200 les chefs four loko special 110910 The Lower East Side Gets Loko: Eddie Huangs Xiao Ye Serves Up Controversial Caffeinated Malt LiquorDespite widespread outrage over hospitalized college kids, state laws barring certain open bars and a harsh dismissal from Frank Bruni, Eddie Huang actually had a Four Loko event at his restaurant Xiao Ye. It happened last night, and for the first time Four Loko was sold at a bar in New York. 

By all indications, things went pretty well. The Observer walked up to the restaurant at 15 minutes to 11:00, when the $3 Four Loko special was to end, and the beverage’s 12 percent alcohol content appeared to have taken effect. 

“The cigarette just brought it out — I just got Loko’d,” said a man taking a smoke break outside, near the corner of Houston and Orchard.

“Dude,” said the man with him. “My heart is palpitating.”

We walked into the narrow wood-heavy space, where Juelz Santana blared on the speakers and the word “Dericious” — actually spelled like that — was written in red cursive on the wall. Asian-styled appetizers peppered some table tops, but most had nothing but cans of Four Loko and glasses.

“Get our Loko on!” said one man near the doorway. “Let’s fuck shit up! I’m ready to ride a mechanical bull motherfucker!”

“Pussy and beer, man,” said another man, on why he was there.

“This is my first time ever drinking Four Loko, actually,” said another. “It’s quite delicious. It’s like Red Bull times five.”

“It’s for the kids, yo!” said the other.

“It’s like flavored blunt wraps, but alcohol!”

A pair of young girls sat at a table abutting them.

“Yes I did, on a rooftop,” conceded the first girl, on if she had drank it before. “Without underwear on!”

We asked her to explain.

“Well, Four Loko took no part in the ‘me not having underwear on.'”

“I just generally don’t like to wear underwear,” chimed in her friend.

“On rooftops!”

“Rooftops!”

“I can enjoy the breeze better that way…”

We thanked them, and found owner Eddie Huang, who was checking out the ruckus that had spread through his restaurant. The noise was such that we had to go outside to talk.

“Dude, it’s crazy over here tonight, packed wall-to-wall,” Eddie said to The Observer. 

Eddie Huang’s blog contains impassioned paeans to the stuff. But what about Four Loko gets you, Eddie? 

“I mean dude,” Huang said. “It tastes fantastic, it gets you fucked up and it’s cheap. That’s what you look for in a drink, right?”

The owner of Xiao Ye — which was reviewed to entertaining results by New York Times dining editor Sam Sifton — was wearing a flat-brimmed old-school Washington Redskins hat and a chain with a green talisman hanging that was tucked beneath an army camo jacket.

“Every Thursday we’re doing this. $3 Four Lokos. We going hard in the paint.”

Huang explained that his bar is the only one in New York selling the beverage.

“We’re dedicated to getting people wasted for cheap,” he said. Also, he denied any influence from or contact with Four Loko or its parent company. Instead, he called himself the “unofficial spokesperson.”

Then, one of the patrons came out, and Eddie rushed to embrace him in a big enthusiastic bro hug.

“Taiwan, what up!” Huang said.

“You’re a pimp, dude,” the young man responded.

nfreeman [at] observer.com | @nfreeman1234