End of an Era – Inventor of the SourTOE Cocktail – Dawson City, Yukon

 “You can drink it fast. You can drink it slow. But your lips must touch that gnarly toe.”

Sad news today indeed.  Captain Dick Stevenson was a Riverboat Captain and the infamous inventor of the Yukon’s Sourtoe Cocktail.  Sadly he passed away this week.

RIP Captain………..

Sourtoe Captain  (This is not Captain Stevenson *)

What is a Sourtoe Cocktail one might ask?  It is the Yukon Territory’s oddest claims to fame; the Yukon being one of three territories in Canada.

The cocktail is a glass of alcohol, usually a shot of Yukon Jack whiskey, or alcohol of your choice, with a human toe in it.  Let that sink in………..

Here is the story behind the Sourtoe Cocktail……………sometime during the 1920’s, two brothers were caught in a blizzard and one brother lost a toe to frostbite.  They placed the toe in a jar of alcohol.  No I do not know why.  As a celebration perhaps? or a gritty reminder?

Then in 1973, according to legend,  Captain Stevenson found the jar with the toe in it at a remote cabin.  He must have had quite the imagination because he came up with the idea of creating a Sourtoe Cocktail Club.  In order to belong to the club, you had to drink your cocktail and let your lips touch the toe.

Clean that toe well  (This is not Captain Steveson *)


Upon completion, you receive a certificate !!  And the admiration of many?  Maybe not.

Hurrah!  A certificate !

So people may ask – Do they use real human toes.  Indeed they do !  So then you may ask – Where do these toes come from?  They are all donated from living donors who have lost a toe from lawnmower accidents, amputations or removed for medical reasons.  I read somewhere that Captain Stevenson himself wanted his own toes donated upon his death.

Over the years, one of the toes was deliberately swallowed by a man.  He had to pay a $500 fine to the bar for this act.  Now the fine is up to $2500 if you swallow the toe.   As many as 14 other toes have been lost, stolen or ingested.  Really?

The Sourtoe waiting for it’s next victim…I mean customer !

Clint and I were fortunate to have traveled to the Yukon in 2017.  I love the Yukon and would go back again in a heartbeat.  We were in Dawson City for a week and we did spend one evening sitting at the bar at the Sourdough Saloon, drinking toeless beers, and watching the brave souls who did pay to drink the Sourtoe Cocktail.  The lineup was out the door.  Unbelievable!

We had no interest in doing this but it was sure fun watching everyone else.  Once you finished your drink, the Captain would take the toe and wipe it with a cloth, dip it in salt and toss it into the next drink.  Ewwww is all I have so say !!  Although we did Kiss the Cod in Newfoundland but that’s a story for another day………………..

* The photos above are not of Captain Stevenson who was living in Whitehorse, Yukon upon his death.  

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