There's a human toe in your drink because you ordered it that way, weirdo | Bob's Blitz

There's a human toe in your drink because you ordered it that way, weirdo

DAWSON CITY, Yukon Territory -- "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow. But the lips have gotta touch the toe." That's the quote that goes with the Sourtoe Cocktail in the Downtown Hotel's Sourdough Saloon.

The idea was born in 1973, when riverboat captain Dick "River Rat" Stevenson found a severed big toe preserved in a pickle jar in a cabin outside of town. Capt. Dick, as he is known, says he came up with the original rules for the drink over the course of a drunken evening with friends: take a beer glass full of champagne, drop in the toe, tip the glass back…and the toe must touch the lips. In September 1973, eight people participated in the first attempt; nearly four decades later, the Sourtoe Cocktail Club has an estimated 100,000-plus members.

"We've had people throwing up, we've had people gagging on their drinks," says manager Dick Van Nostrand. "You never know when some fool is going to do something stupid," Mr. Van Nostrand says. "And then we'll be without a toe."

So where does one get a human toe?

Indeed, many toes have been lost. The original toe touched roughly 725 pairs of lips before it was swallowed in the summer of 1980 by a placer miner. A replacement toe was swallowed in 1983. Other toes have been damaged by overzealous patrons.

Despite the toes' propensity to walk away, donors keep stepping forward. After the first toe was swallowed, a woman in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, sent in a middle toe she had had amputated years earlier due to an inoperable corn. One toe was donated by a trapper who had lost it to frostbite. Another came by way of lawn mower accident.

Steve White, 42, a chain-link fence installer in Whitehorse, got his pinkie toe amputated in January 2000 after developing hammertoe—and, having heard the story of the Sourtoe, asked the doctor to save it.

Mr. White didn't get around to donating until April 2002. "The call came out from Dawson, they had no toes going into the season," Mr. White recalls. Before that, he had had it in a jar in his freezer. "My wife wasn't very happy with me," he says.

Mr. White sent the toe up to Dawson City and later drove up to "do the toe" for the first time—with his own toe. "I always tell people I left a little piece of me in Dawson," he says.

Oh, Canada.

WSJ...No Way to Tiptoe Around It: This Drink Can Be Hard to Swallow

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