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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP remind Parksville Qualicum Beach residents they can report crimes online

Option to report lost or stolen licence plates and ICBC validation tags also available

Bucket list: Errington Hall set to come alive with special drumming

Pair of programs scheduled to take place starting October

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out stand on Norcross Road

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

Most Read