Dawson, Canada

The Sourtoe Cocktail

Champagne seasoned with an amputated toe, is now on its tenth digit

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Contributor:

UPDATE: On August 24th the ninth "sour toe" was swallowed. A customer came in, ordered the infamous Sourtoe Cocktail, chugged the drink swallowing toe and all,  and slammed down 500 dollars, the fine for swallowing the toe. Luckily the bar had a backup toe in waiting. The fine has since been raised to 2500$. 

Established in 1973, the Sourtoe Cocktail has become a Dawson City tradition and is exactly what is sounds like: An actual human toe that has been dehydrated and preserved in salt is served in a drink. 

According to the story, Yukon local Captain Dick Stevenson found the toe preserved in a jar of alcohol while cleaning a cabin in 1973. After discussing it with friends, Captain Dick preserved and started serving the toe in a "Sourtoe Cocktail" at the Eldorado hotel bar. Thus the Sourtoe Cocktail Club was formed.

The first toe is said to have belonged to a miner and rum runner named Louie Liken, who had his frostbitten appendage amputated in the 1920s. Liken preserved it in a jar of alcohol in his cabin, where Stevenson found it some 50 years later. 

Unfortunately, the first toe lasted only seven more years after its discovery. According to the Sourtoe Cocktail Club, "In July 1980, a miner named Garry Younger was trying for the Sourtoe record. On his thirteenth glass of Sourtoe champagne, his chair tipped over backwards, and he swallowed the toe. Sadly, Toe #1 was not recovered."

Since then, seven more toes have been donated to the bar. Number two was given after an amputation due to an inoperable corn; number three was from a victim of frostbite (it was also swallowed accidentally); four was an anonymous toe (later stolen by a hunter); toes five and six were donated by a Yukon old-timer in return for free drinks for his nurses; toe seven was an amputation due to diabetes; and toe eight arrived in a jar of alcohol with the message, "Don't wear open-toe sandals while mowing the lawn."

Today you can still drink the Sourtoe Cocktail (which is still garnished a real toe) and join the club - complete with a proper certificate. The original rules were that the toe must be placed in a beer glass full of champagne, and that the toe must touch the drinker's lips during the consumption of the alcohol before he or she could claim to be a true Sourtoer.

The rules have changed in the past 27 years. The Sourtoe can now be had with any drink, but one rule remains the same: "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow—but the lips have gotta touch the toe."

  • Address
    Corner of Second and Queen, Sourdough Saloon in the Downtown Hotel, Dawson, Y0B, Canada
  • Cost
    $5.00 plus the cost of your selected drink.
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