Since 1973, the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Canada has been serving up a specialty drink known as the Sourtoe Cocktail, which is defined as any drink or shot chosen by a patron but with one unifying ingredient: a severed human toe.
According to hotel staffers, the Sourtoe Cocktail has been sampled by over 60,000 since its inception. Those who try it immediately become members of an elite group called the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Membership is $10 but that’s only if you adhere to the following: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow — but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”
It all started when riverboat Capt. Dick Stevenson was rummaging through a cabin in the Dawson City area. He came across a toe being preserved in a jar of moonshine. Word around town was that the toe had been preserved in the alcohol since the 1920s, when guys in the area were running moonshine by bobsled. Their toes would freeze in the winter weather conditions, and it was easier just to cut off the frozen toe than find help.
12 toes have been used by the Downtown Hotel in the past 40 years. The first was swallowed by a patron in 1980. Being that it’s difficult to procure human toes, the hotel discourages their consumption with a $500 fine.
A doctor at the UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland said that choking is the only potential health risk if one were to swallow the toe, intentionally or unintentionally. “Consuming the toe would not have any ill effect,” he said. “As long as it’s well preserved and drained of all blood and bodily fluids and preserved long enough to dry out, so there is not a way for infectious conditions like Hepatitis or HIV to exist.”
A hotel spokesperson said, “There is one toe left as of now so we’ve been welcoming new toes.” They’ve since increased the fine to $2500 for the intentional swallowing of the toe.
The hotel put out this ad so it can keep the Sourtoe Cocktail on the menu: