Drinking a Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon

dawson city sourtoe cocktail“Drink it fast, drink it slow, lips have got to touch the toe.”

Those words may sound like an urban legend, but that’s the line recited dozens of times every night at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City—made famous as the place where you can down a shot garnished with a real human toe. Yes, you read that right. A real human toe.

dawson city sourtoe cocktailYou see, sometimes us crazy Canadians come up with really strange ideas, and Captain Dick Stevenson was no different when he started the bizarre tradition of dumping a dehydrated toe into his drink back in 1973. Ever since, partiers have flocked to the tiny heritage town of Dawson City to cross this one off their bucket lists.

You’re probably saying, “as if it’s a real toe.” Well folks, I have it on very good authority that they are real toes, donated from all around the world. Obviously there are a number of reasons not to swallow one, but that’s exactly what happened in 2013 when some special snowflake from New Orleans purposely slammed it back. He threw down the $500 fine in straight cash and fled town before the locals could get to him. Since that incident, the fine for swallowing a toe has been raised to $2,500.

dawson city sourtoe cocktail

A real human toe in the Sourtoe Cocktail.

While I wasn’t crazy about the idea of going anywhere near a decomposing body part (much less let it touch my face), I would probably never hear the end of it if I chickened out. Plus, travel journalism. So you’re welcome, loyal readers.

dawson city sourtoe cocktail

The Captain handing out a Sourtoe Cocktail

On a Friday night, a small group of us wandered over to the old hotel which is so authentic it still has the old saloon doors out front, and were immediately greeted by the Captain. Well, the female version anyway. She was busy filling out a certificate of completion for a couple of young guys who had just successfully downed the Sour Toe Cocktail, and directed us to the bar to pick our poison.

Obviously we went with a shot of Yukon Jack, then hesitantly made our way back to the table and paid our $5 ‘toe tax.’ Before I knew it, the Captain was reciting “Drink it fast, drink it slow, lips have got to touch the toe,” and I was staring straight at a blackened big toe with the nail still intact. Oh. My. God.

Watch this video to see how I handled it:

Not bad right?! So I have to admit, doing the actual shot wasn’t that bad, and it’s not like the toe was moving or anything. The worst part though? When the Captain squeezed the whisky the toe had soaked up back into my glass, and offered it to me to drink. OH HELL NO.

dawson city sourtoe cocktail

My certificate of completion.

While a Sour Toe Cocktail may not be everyone’s libation of choice, it goes without saying that the experience is a must-do for those who find themselves in Dawson City.

Just don’t swallow it.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

Dawson City, Yukon: A guide to the town that time forgot

White water rafting down the Yukon’s Tatshenshini River

Top 10 must-dos if you’re travelling to Canada

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7 Responses

  1. OMG, that seems so crazy. I know my husband would do it in a sec. I would have to think about it I guess. Still seems a little bizarre, lol. Good job though 🙂

  2. Oh, my gosh. I have to admit, when I clicked on this link from Twitter I had no idea what I was getting into. Kudos to you for actually going through with it! I would have completely chickened out. Also, I love your blogging style. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your toe-drinking experience with us!

  1. August 11, 2015

    […] Drinking a Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon […]

  2. August 26, 2015

    […] While the Gold Rush may be Dawson City’s claim to fame, the case could be made that its nightlife scene is also legendary. From nightly shows to sour toes, there is no shortage of things to do once the sun goes down (or doesn’t go down, depending on what time of year it is). The most famous bar is found in the Downtown Hotel, which is home to the infamous Sourtoe Cocktail, a shot garnished with a real human toe. And to answer your question, yes, I’ve done it! […]

  3. November 10, 2015

    […] Top tip: Try to snag the seat at the back of the plane, where you can take photos out of an open window for the best pictures. YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY: White water rafting down the Yukon’s Tatshenshini River Dawson City, Yukon: A guide to the town that time forgot Drinking a sourtoe cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon […]

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