The Yukon's Sourtoe Cocktail: Don't Swallow the Toe

It's like these, except not still attached to the foot. And all dark brown and leathery.
It's like these, except not still attached to the foot. And all dark brown and leathery.
JK Grence

Up in Canada's Yukon Territory, a bar is missing its most famous toe. A patron took it home... by swallowing it.

Apparently, the long winter nights up in Dawson City are conducive to strange behavior. Back in 1973, one of the bar regulars at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City found a toe that had been preserved in alcohol. Yes, you read that right, a toe, a real, severed, human toe. Someone had the bright idea to plunk it into a glass full of champagne, dubbed it the Sourtoe Cocktail, and a 40-year tradition was born.

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The bar has been through several toes over the years. The first disappeared after someone was on their fifteenth or sixteenth Sourtoe, and down the hatch it went along with the champagne.

The most recent loss happened this past weekend. The bar has a notice posted that there is a $500 fine for swallowing the toe. Someone on their way out of town went in and ordered a shot of Yukon Jack. He plunked down the extra $5 for the Sourtoe treatment. The gentleman in charge of the toe that night gave the customary instructions of "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but the lips have gotta touch the toe."

The drinker made history by knocking back the shot, toe and all. He plunked $500 on the bar, and promptly skipped town. That's right, this was no accident. Pre-meditated toe consumption. The mind reels. As a result of the recent incident, the hotel has upped the fine for toe consumption to $2,500.

The tradition of the Sourtoe Cocktail will continue. The bar keeps a backup toe preserved in salt. However, this means that they are now in search of a new toe. Anyone with recent severe frostbite issues is encouraged to contact the hotel.

Since this is Last Call, I'd be remiss to not include a recipe. While the hotel now allows a Sourtoe to be made with the beverage of your choosing, the original called for an extra-large serving of champagne. Let it be known I'm not suggesting you actually make one of these. Truly, the preparation of this is best left to its creators.

Sourtoe Cocktail (Original Recipe) Champagne 1 preserved toe, for garnish

Fill a beer glass with champagne. Gently drop toe in glass. Drink champagne, allowing toe to touch your lips. DO NOT CONSUME THE TOE.

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