'Sourtoe Cocktail' lives on at Yukon bar after creator wills his own toes
TORONTO – The dying wishes of a Yukon man who created an infamous drink known as the “Sourtoe Cocktail” will be granted after he willed his own toes to keep the tradition alive.
Dick Stevenson, the former bartender at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, died last week at the age of 89.
Stevenson, who locals would call “Captain Dick,” is most known for creating the Sourtoe Cocktail, which includes a shot of whisky and a pickled human toe in a single glass.
“He was a fairly colourful character as many people in town (who) lived here for many years are,” Steven Lancaster, general manager of the Downtown Hotel, told CTV News Channel.
Stevenson created the drink in 1973 after discovering a frost-bitten human toe in a cabin he bought.
Lancaster said to date 92,579 people have officially taken the shot, which includes a stipulation that your lips must touch the toe during consumption.
Those who complete the shot are added to the “Sourtoe Cocktail Club,” which is expected to reach 100,000 members in the summer.
Determined to continue the tradition, Stevenson dedicated his ashes and each of his toes to the hotel in order to keep the tradition alive.
“We wants it carry on, he’s willed his toes and his ashes to the Downtown Hotel, so his thing that he created here can live on,” Lancaster said.
Over the years, the hotel has lost about 15 toes, including some that have been stolen. Five of the toes have been swallowed.
“We’ve got 12 new toes that we’re currently using and they get rotated and cleaned and we just use what we have,” he said.
Lancaster said he was travelling through Dawson City when he first heard of the signature drink and convinced to try it after a few cocktails of his own.
“After a couple of pushes, I’ve done it twice already now,” he said. “It’s interesting, but it’s not that bad.”
Lancaster would later down is third Sourtoe Cocktail during the interview.
With files from The Canadian Press