Your Lips Must Touch The Toe
A Toast to Yukon’s Mummified Toe Tradition
The Sourtoe Cocktail is a peculiar and unique drink that originated in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. What makes this cocktail truly distinctive is the presence of a mummified human toe floating in the glass. The tradition began in 1973 at the Sourdough Saloon in the Downtown Hotel, and it has since become an iconic and somewhat infamous part of Yukon’s cultural identity.
Sipping on the Unusual: The Sourtoe Cocktail Phenomenon in Dawson City, Yukon
Dawson City, nestled on the east bank of the Yukon River, boasts a singular claim to fame—the exclusive offering of the Sourtoe Cocktail at the Downtown Hotel’s bar. This former gold mining town in Canada’s northwest has been home to the eccentric Sourtoe Cocktail Club since the early 1970s, turning it into what has been dubbed “the world’s most disgusting cocktail” and an unexpected tourist attraction.
With over a hundred thousand brave souls having participated in the peculiar drinking ritual, the Sourtoe Cocktail has become a symbol of adventurous spirits seeking an unforgettable experience in Dawson City.
Distinguishing itself from conventional cocktails, the Sourtoe Cocktail includes a dried human toe alongside a sip of the hard liquor of your choice. The drinking rule is clear: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slowly, but your lips must touch the toe.” Those who embrace this unusual tradition earn the coveted membership to the extravagant Sourtoe Cocktail Club.
The brainchild behind this peculiar concoction is Captain Dick Stevenson, who stumbled upon a human toe in a mason jar in an abandoned cabin back in 1973. The toe, belonging to a gold miner named Louie Liken, had reportedly been amputated by Liken’s brother Otto with an ax in the 1920s during a night of smuggling alcohol across the Canada-US border. Stevenson, inspired by this discovery, along with his friends, founded the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.
Since its inception, the Sourtoe Cocktail has had its share of bizarre incidents. The most notorious one involves a man accidentally swallowing Louie Liken’s first toe during a night of revelry in the 1980s. It is rumored that at least seven or eight other toes, belonging to various guests, have met similar fates—either swallowed, lost, or stolen. This darkly humorous and somewhat gruesome aspect adds an extra layer of intrigue to the already peculiar tale of the Sourtoe Cocktail, making it one of the most unconventional and unforgettable stories in the world of mixology.
The Distilling Culture
Embark on a global journey, and you’ll find that cultures possess tales that harken back to their ancient beginnings of distillation, brewing, and winemaking.
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