British man returns to Yukon to tipple his own toe in long-running tradition

So-called sourtoe cocktail is a shot of whisky with a mummified human toe in it

Downtown Hotel sourtoe “toe master” Terry Lee holds the newly mummified big toe of Nick Griffiths in a handout photo. Former British Marine Griffiths is set to become the most exclusive member of an already exclusive club when he visits the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City to sip a so-called sourtoe cocktail; a shot of whisky with a mummified human toe in it. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Downtown Hotel, Dawson City, Yukon)

A British man who lost several toes to frostbite in Yukon is now back in the territory for a reunification of sorts.

Former British marine Nick Griffiths is set to become the most exclusive member of an exclusive club when he visits the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City to sip a so-called sourtoe cocktail; a shot of whisky with a mummified human toe in it.

This cocktail will contain Griffiths’ own big toe, which was amputated along with two other toes, after he suffered severe frostbite while taking part in a nearly 500-kilometre endurance race across Yukon in March 2018.

Downtown Hotel general manager Adam Gerle says Griffiths will be the first “official” person to tipple his own toe.

He says they had one other person donate a toe and drink the cocktail a few years ago, but that toe wasn’t mummified and couldn’t be put in circulation.

The sourtoe was first created in 1973 and has been served more than 90,000 times since.

Drinkers are welcome to either sip or shoot the whisky, but if they want to join the sourtoe club, rules require that the mummified toe must touch their lips.

READ MORE: Injuries, frostbite and death — B.C. man recounts Everest ascent

Griffiths learned about the sourtoe story while recovering in hospital in Whitehorse awaiting return to his hometown of Bolton, England, where the frostbitten toes were removed, Gerle says.

Griffiths arranged to have his big toe sent back to Dawson City, where it was enthusiastically received.

The hotel’s existing toe stock had been deteriorating and staff were in search of new digits, especially big toes, which the hotel’s sourtoe specialist Terry Lee described at the time as ”the most disgusting and popular with the customers.”

It took about six weeks to mummify Griffiths’ toe in salt after it was received and Gerle says Griffiths has returned to experience the finished product.

“He is returning to do his own toe, like he promised,” says Gerle.

“He lost his toes in the Yukon and now he is coming back to reunite with them.”

When the hotel learned of Griffiths’ intended donation it said in a statement that it would foot the bill for his return so Griffiths could claim the rare distinction of sampling his own toe, and being the first whose lips will touch it. (CKRW)

Tim Kucharuk, CKRW, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: 2019 Canadian Whisky Awards’ big winners announced

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

Solutions in sight for Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor shortage

With feasibility study funded, group shares vision of ‘campus of healthcare’

Raise the curtains: New outdoor theatre coming to Parksville

A $204,000 boost comes from Island Coastal Economic Trust

‘Handmade for Hope’ will run at Orca Place in Parksville

Grant received; program will run in different room

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read