The Severed Toe Cocktail

The Yukon during Gold Rush days was a notoriously rough-and-tumble place—and apparently it hasn’t changed all that much. Julia Dimon, a.k.a. the Travel Junkie, recently found herself in Dawson City, Yukon, where she came face to face with a local specialty, the Sourtoe Cocktail:

The drink contains something along the lines of a worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle—except that this something is a human toe. That’s right. A severed human toe, preserved in salt, black and shrivelled and topped with a fat yellow nail. Truly disgusting, but an essential part of the Sourtoe experience.

The “cocktail” consists of a shot of Yukon Jack whiskey topped off with the toe. Drink the whiskey down, and if the toe touches your lips you get a certificate naming you a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Over 65,000 people have conquered the challenge.

There’s a photo of the toe on the club’s website, if you really want to see it. This image may be out of date, however, as the Sourdough Saloon has gone through several toes over the years. “Some are swallowed, one was chewed up and several were hijacked by military cadets from Ontario,” says bar manager Matt van Norstrand. “We keep an extra one in the freezer,” he adds, “for just such emergencies.”

The natural question for hard-core adventurers is, “Is there a Sourfoot?” “As far as we know there isn’t,” the bar’s website says. “[B]ut if you’re looking for a thrill try the Five Toe Sourtoe Cocktail; a drink exclusively for brave people with intestinal fortitude.”