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

Dad of missing Abbotsford woman charged after allegedly exposing himself in park

Barry Shpeley charged with sexual assault and assault at Hougen Park

Not over yet: Mixture of snow, freezing rain on way as winter storm tapers in Lower Mainland

Environment Canada releases weather alert for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

All Mission Public Schools are open today, Jan. 17, except for Deroche Elementary

Superintendent expains one school closed because buses are not running on Nicomen Island

Westbound Highway 1 crash slowing traffic in Langley

Vehicle in ditch east of 264 St. has right lane blocked by emergency crews

VIDEO: Semi-truck driver records 22 crashes in one trip from Chilliwack to Abbotsford

‘Treacherous’ morning had emergency crews struggling to reach stranded drivers

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

VIDEO: Missing cat reunited with Vancouver Island family after three months

‘It was like one day she was there, the next day she was gone,’ said owner

Most Read