Small-town traditions can be some of the most interesting things in the world. But no other local tradition is quite as interesting and/or gross as the sourtoe cocktail. Hailing from a small northern Canadian town called Dawson City, this odd drink is both fascinating and completely creepy…
According to local legend, the sourtoe cocktail was a creation of Yukon local Captain Dick Stevenson’s back in 1973.
The story goes that Stevenson found a preserved, dehydrated human toe while cleaning out an old cabin in the woods. For some reason, after discussing it with friends, Stevenson decided that it would be a good idea to serve people the toe with alcohol at the local saloon. And thus the sourtoe cocktail was born!
So what exactly goes into one of these libations?
The original rules for the cocktail was that the toe had to be placed in a glass of beer. You’d drink it without swallowing the toe. Recently, though, the rules have changed to allow for all kinds of alcohols for the cocktail. The only hard and fast rule now is that your lips have to at some point at least touch the toe.
Those who can stomach it and finish their drink earn a certificate for their accomplishment. You can see an example certificate below.
For just $5, plus the cost of your drink, you can try your hand at the sourtoe cocktail challenge at the Dawson City Downtown Hotel (pictured below).
Sadly, after years of use, the original toe discovered by Captain Stevenson was lost.
The culprit was an overzealous miner who swallowed it while chugging his drink. Several more toes have met their end in a similar fashion. Luckily the Downtown Hotel is well supplied with replacement toes donated by locals.
Still, you don’t want to be caught accidentally swallowing the sourtoe.
In order to ensure the toe remains in the glass, the Downtown Hotel has begun imposing a fine for swallowing it. After yet another toe was swallowed in 2013, the fine was increased from $500 to $2,500!
Want to see some sourtoe cocktail drinking in action? Check out the video below.
(via Atlas Obscura)
As they like to say in Dawson City, “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow — but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”