Hello from the land of the maple leaf. I know there are many questions for me, so lets start with what’s on everyone’s mind. Where the hell have I been? Fair question. Many bloggers go MIA for months with nary an excuse above “I was busy” upon their return.
Well, the truth is, I was busy. And without giving away every sorted detail of my life, remember the initial post that started this blog? Read here. Ya well what was trying to kill me then, is still trying to kill me. So for the past 4 months I have been undergoing a new treatment that left me in a state short of a coma. Not to be dramatic, but never mind writing, I could barely speak. But the treatment is over. I’m now awake and I’m back! Now that all that business is behind us – let the good times roll.
The second question you were probably thinking – What the hell have I been up to? Well, other than the 4 month coma, Q and I did some travelling this summer. We went to where the West is still wild, albeit wacky at times. We travelled under the midnight sun through our newest favourite territory/province and found something our readers could really sink their teeth into. You may want to hold off on prepping your teeth for sinking until you hear what I’m about to share.
There are strange things done under the midnight sun – NO SHIT! But I don’t think the queerest sights the Northern Lights have ever seen was the cremation of Sam McGee. Nope. I’m pretty sure the strangest thing done under the midnight sun that Robert Service was speaking of could be none other than the Sourtoe Cocktail and nightly Club induction in no where other than Dawson City, Yukon.
I know, so now you’re asking yourself – “What the hell is a Sourtoe cocktail?” Well before I jump in with all the juicy (or dehydrated as the case may be) details, lets start from the beginning.
As the story goes, back in the 1920s some poor rum runner had to have his toe amputated after one particular run, mid-blizzard when the digit became frozen solid. The toe was then kept in a jar of alcohol for reasons unknown. Now here is where the story takes a turn for the weird (not that preserving a dead toe isn’t already weird enough). Apparently upon its discovery some 50 years later and after much discussion with friends, Captain Dick Stevenson and company thought to stick the appendage into a shot of booze for consumption. I’m not sure why or even how anyone could come to this type of conclusion but alas the idea was born and with rules established regarding this very special drink, the Sourtoe Cocktail Club was born.
I know – you all just want to rush out and have one. Well you will have to head over to the Sourdough Saloon contained within the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City. From there, anyone tough enough (or lacking a gag reflex) will need to follow these steps to experience the cocktail and join this prestigious club.
- Head to the bar counter and purchase an ounce of liquor. There are several varieties you may choose from which must be a specific proof. I chose Jose Cuervo for a toe-quila but most people pick the Yukon’s very own Yukon Jack liquor.
- Line up (yes there is a line) and once it’s your turn pay the “toe tax” of $5 to the Master of Toe.
- Take the Sourtoe pledge. You can drink her fast, or you can drink her slow. But your lips must touch the toe. Yes, you must let the disgusting, rotten toe touch your lips when you take your shot.
- The Toe Master or Toe Captain drops the dried out, old, wrinkly thing in your drink. All you have to do now is shoot your drink, throw your head back, let the toe hit your lips and try not to faint or puke.
Yes, you read it all right. It is a dead human toe in your shot glass with an ounce of booze and the object is to drink the alcohol and let the toe touch you but beware – there is a $2500 fine for swallowing the toe. The penalty was $500 until a couple of years ago when an American swallowed the toe, paid the fine and left – on purpose!!!
How do I know so much about this drink and club? Because I am Sourtoe Cocktail Club member 67887, Q is 67886. When the Toe Captain informed me about the fine for swallowing the toe I impressed upon him that anything going down other than the alcohol would promptly be returned to him (I have a superior gag reflex – read about it here). To which Terry, the Master of Toe replied, “Not this sucker. It’s a hammerhead toe. If it goes down it’s getting lodged!” I will let you gulp and fan your face before I continue.
The last question and really the only one that needs to be answered at this point is this. Why would anyone do this? The only answer I can come up with is – because you can. I was asked by Terry the Toe Captain where else in the world could you do this? Ignore the fact you’re drinking something with a dead severed digit soaking in it for a minute. The process of the toe being dipped in this drink and that, and only really dried off in between by napkins, and the hitting of everyone’s lips I was thinking we must be racking up the health violations. I cannot even think of where else you could do this or under any other circumstance it would be acceptable! But for some reason, maybe the liquor you’re pounding back waiting your turn, or the excitement in the air (yes people are excited about it) but something propels you to get into the line. Men, women, young and old it appeals to everyone and I honestly don’t know why. Neither do the locals, which out of everyone I asked had not and would not join the club.
And here is where this story takes its last turn for the weird. The Sourdough Saloon is on its like 10th toe. When one gets swallowed they search for another donor – and yes they are all donated.
Many questions asked and answered. And now you all know about the strange things done under the midnight sun and the Sourtoe Cocktail!! Note to my sister – we now know the value of a toe. 😜
~True North Nomad
Do you know of some weird tradition still ongoing? What was the grossest or silliest thing you’ve ever done to join that one special club! Talk to us in the comments below!
Tequila shot – $7; Toe Tax – $5; Tip to the Toe Captain – $5; Inducted into the Sourtoe Cocktail Club – PRICELESS! – enter your email address top left, bottom right or bottom centre of this post and click “Follow” and never miss an impassioned tale again!