Yukon bar's signature ingredient for 'Sourtoe Cocktail' stolen

Posted Jun 20, 2017 by Karen Graham
A bar in Canada is up-in-arms after a customer made off with the secret recipe for the establishment's signature drink. The Downtown Hotel located in Dawson City, Yukon, is known for its “Sourtoe Cocktail” but the toe used in the drink is gone.
The Downtown Hotel in Dawson City  Yukon Territory  Canada.
The Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada.
Adam Jones, Ph.D.
It may sound gross to outsiders but in Dawson City, Yukon, having a drink with a mummified toe dropped in the glass like the maraschino cherry in a whiskey sour isn't so unusual.
And the bar's "Toe Captain," Terry Lee, according to CBC Canada, said in a news release that everyone was furious when it was discovered the famous toe had apparently been the victim of some sticky fingers. "Toes are very hard to come by."
The hotel's famous cocktail involves a shot of whiskey with the severed digit floating like a cork on a Yukon lake, in the glass. The Hardy soul who pays a $5.00 "toe Tax," in addition to the cost of the drink, is only supposed to allow the toe to touch his lips as he downs his drink.
Up until 2013, the fine for swallowing the toe was $500, a sum that was handed over readily by a patron who did just that. The toe-guzzler was allegedly from New Orleans and went by the handle, "Josh." The fine was raised to $2,500 after that incident. And no, Josh disappeared into the night, never to be seen in the Yukon again.
"Stunts like this adversely affect the whole community, not just the Downtown Hotel. We, fortunately, have a couple of backup toes, but we really need this one back," Lee said in the news release on Monday.
Patrons can only order a  sourtoe cocktail  between 9 and 11 p.m. nightly.
Patrons can only order a "sourtoe cocktail" between 9 and 11 p.m. nightly.
Downtown Hotel/ Facebook
Hotel manager Geri Coulbourne said the loss of this particular toe was really sad because it was donated by a man who had to have it surgically removed. It was then cured in salt for six months. "This was our new toe, and it was a really good one. We just started using it this weekend," she said.
Luckily, the police apparently have the name of the toe-snatcher, a fellow believed to be from Quebec. He allegedly had boasted about wanting to steal the toe. It's reported that the man coaxed the bartender into letting him have a "sourtoe cocktail" after the bar's usual 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. "toe time."
"One of the new staff served it to him to be nice. And this is how he pays her back. What a low life," Coulbourne said.
@sourtoe on Twitter
So how did the "sourtoe cocktail" come about? It seems that a rum runner named Louie Liken had his frostbitten big toe amputated. Louie kept it preserved in a jar of alcohol, the drinking kind, most likely for years. Fast forward 50 years later to 1973.
Capt. Dick Stevenson, a former Yukon riverboat captain, now retired, was cleaning a Dawson area cabin when he came across the preserved toe. Capt. Stevenson is credited with "inventing' the now famous drink, and while the price of the whiskey has changed a few times, the $5.00 "toe tax" has lived on.
@sourtoe on Twitter
Dawson City visitors are invited to try the "sourtoe cocktail," well, actually, they are invited to "do the toe." But anyone successfully touching that toe to their lips not only gets bragging rights but a commemorative certificate, joining the estimated 60,000 people already in the “Sourtoe Cocktail Club.”
Where do all the toes come from? you might ask. To date, 15 toes have either been swallowed, lost or stolen. Louie's toe, the very first one, was swallowed in 1980 by gold miner Garry Younger. Replacement toes are all donated, with the biggest donation being five toes donated by a miner who had his leg run over by a bulldozer.