I’ve never… been part of the Sour Toe Cocktail Club

There are 3 items on my ultimate bucket list. Joining Captain Dick’s World Famous Sour Toe Cocktail Club is one of them. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this drinking tradition, Sour Toe cocktails are found exclusively at the Downtown Hotel bar in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. To join the club you simply have to drink a shot of whiskey with a severed human toe in it and let the toe touch your lips.

Since the 1920s, the Downtown Hotel has inducted 36,795 members into its Sour Toe Cocktail Club and on July 15th, 2010, during my trip to the Yukon, I became the 36,796th member. The Hotel has gone through eight toes over the years; some stolen, some lost and yes, a couple swallowed. The toes are donated from a variety of sources ranging from frostbitten amputations to unfortunate lawn mower accidents and people have written the Downtown Hotel into their wills, insisting that a piece of them linger in this world on the bottom of a glass of Yukon Gold Whiskey. Here’s a link to the history of the toes: http://www.sourtoecocktailclub.com/rip.html.

Before the video, let me answer a few frequently asked questions. Yes, it’s a real severed human toe. Yes, it’s disgusting. And yes, it’s very awesome.

That said, here’s the video of me doing the toe shot. Special thanks to Dierdre, Christine and Pieter for being my partners in crime this night and who are now also all club members. I’ll walk you through what was going through my head (and mouth) after the video.

So I got a bit carried away. For effect, my plan was to drop the toe into my mouth for the briefest of moments to ensure there was no debate as to whether or not it actually touched my lips. The problem was that once I got it in my mouth I couldn’t spit it out without spitting out the whiskey as well (and that would just make me look like a sissy). And I didn’t want to swallow the whiskey for fear that I’d swallow the toe as well.

So I had to manoeuver the toe with my tongue to get it lined up in my mouth whereby I could push it through my pursed lips like a fat, fleshy pasta noodle. As I moved the toe into position all I could think of was “please don’t let me have to tongue the severed end.” Of course that’s exactly what happened when I finally managed to get the toe out of my mouth.

It was awful and awesome at the same time and I’m thrilled to now be a card-carrying member of Captain Dick’s Sour Toe Cocktail Club.

Become a member of the Sour Toe Cocktail Club? Check.

Duane Elgin, author of “Voluntary Simplicity”, talked about the “invisible wealth of experiential riches.” My “I’ve Never Club” is inspired by this idea and chronicles my reflections on the novel things I’ve done recently.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.


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6 Responses to I’ve never… been part of the Sour Toe Cocktail Club

  1. Marie says:


    You make me so proud!

  2. Andrew Wheeler says:

    That may indeed be one of the foulest things I have ever seen someone consume (and I avidly watch Man vs. Wild!).

  3. Kai says:

    Saw this on QI. I want to be a member, too! First I have to get myself to Canada!

  4. Pingback: Oh, the things we do: A call for submissions | Josh Martin Ink

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