Premier Puts His ‘Best Foot Forward’ and Makes a Little Yukon History

Who drank the 100,000th Sourtoe Cocktail? Well, now we know. The famous drink (also known as The Toe), was created by the equally famous Captain Dick, in 1973, in the even more famous locale known as Dawson City, and has been a major “Yukon To Do” for visitors and locals alike. Since 1973, the number of exclusive members of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club has climbed steadily, over the years, to reach the numerical milestone this week. Sandy Silver was the individual who figuratively and literally bellied up to the bar to make a little history on July 19 when he downed the 100,000th Sourtoe Cocktail.

The Downtown Hotel in Dawson is where the Sourtoe Cocktail resides and, as legend goes, it involves drinking a shot of whisky (or gin) with a mummified human toe in it. Once the Toe touches the imbiber’s lips, they will have officially joined the club and will receive a certificate to commemorate the occasion.

Downtown Hotel’s Director of Sourtoe Cocktail Relations, Adam Gerle, said the excitement had been building, in Dawson City, in anticipation of the auspicious moment, with designs on enticing A-List celebrities to potentially be in on the history-making event. Gerle said he had even invited Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds up to do the honours with his (Reynold’s brand) Aviation Gin.

But it is the Yukon’s top politician who is claiming the bragging rights and “no-toe-riety” of drinking the 100,000th Sourtoe Cocktail, Gerle said.

Sandy Silver is not just the Yukon’s Premier, he is also MLA for the Klondike riding, where Dawson City is located, and a longtime Dawson resident. He beat out other contenders for the bragging rights.

“I don’t often get asked to fill in for Ryan Reynolds, but I’m always happy to oblige,” the Premier said. “Drinking the Sourtoe Cocktail is a time-honoured tradition in my hometown of Dawson. Visitors from around the world have touched their lips to the Toe, and so have many residents. I am thrilled to have been served the 100,000th Sourtoe Cocktail … it’s not my first and it won’t be my last.”

Terry Lee, who is the current Toe Master at the Downtown Hotel, enjoyed Sourtoe Cocktail 99,999 and said, prior to the event, that there was a special twist for this particular drink.

“We’ve been excited about this day for over a year, and the town is buzzing. The Toe has been great publicity for Dawson City, and we plan to use one of Captain Dick’s gnarly big toes for the occasion. He would be thrilled to know we’re hitting 100,000 members!”

Captain Dick Stephenson was the founder of the Sourtoe Cocktail, back in 1973, and presided over every tip of the glass containing a toe, until he passed away in 2019. However, the legacy of Captain Dick lives on in physical form, as well, after he willed all 10 of his toes to the Downtown Hotel. Lee said it was a way to ensure that there will be more Sourtoe cocktails in the future.

“Fresh toes are difficult to come by these days, and his generous “toe-nation” will help ensure the tradition continues.”

Gerle said this milestone just adds to the legend and the history that makes the territory so interesting and special.“Only in the Yukon,” chuckled Gerle. “The poet Robert Service was correct: there really are strange things done under the Midnight Sun!”

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