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Famous Shriveled Toe Returned to Yukon Bar

The key ingredient in the Sourtoe Cocktail, the dried-out digit was mailed back on Thursday

( TravelingOtter /Flickr)
smithsonian.com
Update, June 23, 2017: Drinkers, rejoice! The toe stolen from Yukon's Downtown Hotel on June 18 has been returned. Yukon's Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported on Thursday that the toe was mailed back with a note apologizing for the theft, according to
CBC News .

There are some truly stomach-churning drinks in the world including wine made from baby mice and beer made from whale testicles smoked with sheep’s dung. But one of the contenders for the most off-putting drink was recently sabotaged: someone stole the dried shriveled human toe used to make the famous Sourtoe Cocktail at Dawson City’s Downtown Hotel, reports Paul Tukker at CBC News.

The incident occurred over the weekend when someone ordered one of the infamous cocktails, which includes a human toe (stored and cured in salt) dropped into a shot of whiskey or any other hard alcohol. Imbibers—so far more than 100,000 count themselves as members of the "Sourtoe Cocktail Club"—are required to follow one rule: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.” Anyone brave enough to finish the shot is inducted into the club and is given an official certificate and everything.

Before the thief absconded with the dried-up digit, though, there were signs that the toe was in danger. For instance, the man who stole the toe said he might steal the toe before finishing his drink, reports Stephanie Ip at the Vancouver Sun.

The loss was especially poignant since the toe was relatively fresh, not to mention it was a hammer toe, meaning it was large and curled down, which ensured the digit wouldn't be a choking hazard, reports Tegan Hanlon at Alaska Dispatch News. The toe came from a man who had to have it surgically removed and decided to donated it to the bar. It cured in salt for six months before it was brought into cocktail circulation over the weekend.

In a statement, the hotel says the man had a French accent and was from Quebec. He filled out his Sourtoe Cocktail Club certificate and left it behind, so they believe police will be able to track him down.

According to the bar, the drink's origins date back to the 1920s. Rum runners Otto and Louie Linken were smuggling booze into Alaska during a blizzard when Louie stepped off his dogsled into some water. They didn’t stop to dry off the foot, and by the end of their journey, Louie’s big toe was frozen solid. His brother hacked it off with an axe, and they decided to preserve it in a jar of champagne. Captain Dick Stevenson found that jar while cleaning out their cabin in 1973. Using the toe, Stevenson and his friends established the Sourtoe tradition, which horrifies visitors to this day.

While the stolen toe is out of circulation, the bar will be able to keep the tradition going. Over the years, the bar has received at least 10 donations of toes from anonymous donors and through people’s wills.

Missing Toe
(Downtown Hotel)
About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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