The staff at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon is furious at a patron who recently visited their bar. Not because this out-of-control customer blacked out on tequila shots and vomited into the ice machine, nor because they threw a stool in an epic bar fight. The hotel is livid because someone stole their toe—and whoever did it will pay.
"We are furious," Terry Lee, the hotel's "Toe Captain," said in a news release to CBC. "Toes are very hard to come by."
The mummified human toe is used in the hotel bar's signature drink: the "Sourtoe Cocktail," wherein brave bar patrons must take a shot (most opt for whiskey) containing the disembodied toe and allow it to touch their lips. The $10 drink has been popular at the Downtown Hotel since 1973, and allegedly close to 100,000 visitors have done the stunt.
But the cocktail's notoriety has led to a serious problem for the bar: lost and stolen toes. The hotel now charges a $2,500 fine for swallowing or stealing the toe, which is more common than you might think. This past weekend, a customer from Quebec apparently bragged that he planned to steal the toe, according to CBC, and made off with it after a friendly bartender accommodated his request for a Sourtoe Cocktail outside of the bar's designated "Toe Time" of 9 PM to 11 PM.
"One of the new staff served it to him to be nice. And this is how he pays her back. What a low life," Lee said. However, the staff does have the suspect's name and intends to find him and charge him for his offense.
In case you're wondering where this particular toe came from, it was donated by a man who had to have it surgically removed. It was then preserved with salt over the course of six months. The hotel has been through a dozen different toes over the past four decades, according to ABC News.
The original toe used in the 1970s allegedly dated back to the 1920s, when it was amputated from a miner and stored in a jar of moonshine for 50 years. When local Captain Dick Stevenson found the preserved toe in an old cabin, he brought it to the hotel's saloon and started putting it in people's drinks, where it remained the bar's inaugural toe for seven years before being swallowed when a man's chair tipped backwards as he drank a Sourtoe.
"This was our new toe, and it was a really good one. We just started using it this weekend," hotel manager Geri Coulbourne said in the hotel's statement on the incident.
Back in 2013, a New Orleans man named Josh swallowed the toe that was being used for the cocktail, left $500 cash (the fine at the time for nicking the toe, before it was increased to $2,500), and split. As a result, the hotel had to start running ads in search of new toes.
At any given time, they usually have a couple of back-ups, but as Lee mentioned, human toes aren't exactly easy to come by—no matter what Walter might say in The Big Lebowski. Several of the toes they've received over the years have been from frostbite or amputation procedures; one supposedly came with a note that said, "Don't wear open-toe sandals while mowing the lawn."
MUNCHIES has reached out to Downtown Hotel for an update on the toe situation, but has not yet received a response.
And if you happen to need a toe amputation anytime soon, you might want to reach out to the bar, too. We hear they're looking.
UPDATE: As of June 23, 2017, the toe was returned to the bar via mail, with a note apologizing for its untimely disappearance. We'll drink a Sourtoe to that.