If you are ever in the Canadian Yukon’s Dawson City, stop by the Sourdough Saloon for some food and drinks and be sure to experience a peculiar cocktail called the ‘Sourtoe’. Nick Griffiths would appreciate the visit.
The Drink Has (Frost)bite
Griffiths, a frequent contender in extreme racings, participated this last winter in the Yukon Arctic Ultra. The race is a punishing 300-mile jaunt via foot, dogsled and mountain bikes through inhospitable freezing landscapes, with temperatures getting down to 58 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, making it one of the coldest races in the world.
Griffiths set out on the February race with high hopes. Thirty hours into the trial, however, the British runner succumbed to frostbite on three of his toes and had to drop out.
Despondent from the turn of events, Griffiths was taken to a local hospital to recover after having the three frostbitten toes removed. He was attended by a staff of nurses, one of whom gave Griffiths an idea.
Dipping a Toe Into a New Experience
At one point during his stay at the hospital, a nurse showed Griffiths video on her cellphone of her participating in the ‘Sourtoe cocktail’ challenge at the Sourdough Saloon.
To complete the challenge, a patron must down at least one ounce of alcohol (usually Canadian whiskey) that has a preserved amputated human toe in it. During the drink, the lips of the imbiber must touch the toe. If done correctly, the contestant gets a certificate stating their accomplishment.
****WARNING: THE NEXT PICTURE ON THIS PAGE IS OF AN AMPUTATED TOE IN A COCKTAIL****
The Birth of the Idea
A question the bartenders must get all the time is, ‘How did this all start?’
According to a local Yukon paper sourced by Live Science, the drinks began to be served in 1973 using a toe supposedly from a famous Canadian bootlegger.
Those wishing to be a part of history must follow the aforementioned rules and must be monitored by a ‘Toe Captain’. Previous incidents of people swallowing the toe or stealing it prompted the supervision by an official.
As of this writing, over 100,000 people have brushed their lips on one of ten toes the saloon has had over the years.
The Legacy Continues
Everything Griffiths heard about the backstory and the ritual encouraged him to donate his toes. After securing their release from his astonished surgeon, Griffiths had the digits delivered to the saloon.
Even though preserved in salt and alcohol, the toes eventually become unusable, which makes Griffiths donation such a great gift for the Sourdough Saloon.
Jonny Klynkramer, the Sourdough Saloon bar manager, however, still has his preferences.
“We always prefer big toes — they’re the meatiest.”
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