DAWSON CITY, Yukon – A man has left a Dawson City, Yukon, hotel in a bit of a toe jam.
The man was at the Downtown Hotel Saturday night drinking the infamous Sourtoe Cocktail, which involves swigging a shot of whiskey with a human toe in the glass and allowing the toe to touch the drinker’s lips.
This time, the patron swallowed the digit – on purpose.
The hotel’s so-called toe captain, Terry Lee, performed the drink ceremony, and said the man took the shot, gulped down the toe and then slapped $500 dollars on the counter, the fine for swallowing the appendage.
“He stands up, reaches in his pocket, and takes five $100 bills and slams it on the table and starts walking away. And I said ‘Where’s the toe?’ And he said, ‘I swallowed it,”‘ Lee said, describing the event.
Lee said the fine has since been increased to $2,500, to provide more of a deterrent because now the hotel only has one toe left.
The two shrivelled brown toes have rotated, with one in use and the other stored in coarse salt.
“Right now the toe we are using, we are going to be using it continuously, and it’s going to deteriorate. We’re going to have to get rid of that toe once it starts falling apart,” Lee said.
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The tradition started in 1973 after a toe believed to belong to a prohibition-era rum runner was found in a cabin by boat captain Dick Stevenson, prompting him to start the “Sourtoe Cocktail Club”.
According to the Sourtoe Cocktail Club website, the toe was originally placed in a beer glass full of champagne. But the rules have changed over the decades and the Sourtoe can now be had with any drink, even non-alcoholic ones.
One rule remains the same, however: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow – but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”
The website also suggests not swallowing the toe.