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Inventor of Cocktail with Human Toe Garnish Dies, Donates All His Toes to the Cause

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If you’re pouring one out in honor of Dick Stevenson, the legendary Canadian bartender who died last week at age 89, make sure some of the booze thoroughly soaks your big toes. He would’ve wanted it that way.

Stevenson, who also went by Captain Dick, is best-known as the inventor of the Sourtoe Cocktail, the notorious shot of Canadian whisky that also contains a well-preserved human toe. More than 96,000 people have found themselves in Dawson City, Yukon and downed the drink to become official members of the Dawson Hotel’s Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Every single one of them also followed the unbreakable rule that serves as the club’s motto: “You could drink it fast, you could drink it slow, but the lips have got to touch the toe.

But Stevenson wasn’t just content to leave his signature drink behind; he’s also set to become an essential part of it. According to his daughter, Dixie, his will stated that all 10 of his toes are to be removed and donated to the bar’s collection. His posthumous generosity more than doubles the hotel’s toe reserves; before Stevenson signed on to surrender his digits, six mummified toes were available for use in the drink. He also stipulated that his ashes are also to be kept in the bar, in a wooden toe-shaped urn that he commissioned before his death.

“He didn’t care anything about the money, he just wanted the fame to go on for the rest of history. [The cocktail] brought him the most fame of anything he’s ever done. Worldwide pretty much,” Dixie Stevenson said. “Dad is a publicity hound and he just said he was going to be more famous after he’s dead.”

According to an oft-repeated legend, the drink’s first toe came from a rum-runner during Prohibition who lost the digit to frostbite in the 1920s. For whatever reason, he decided to keep the toe, and he preserved it in a jar of alcohol. Fast-forward a half-century, and Stephenson—who was a barge captain at the time—found the toe in a cabin he’d bought from that nine-toed man’s brother. Stevenson started entertaining himself and his drinking companions by dunking it in shots of whiskey at his local bar, and then he started serving the Sourtoe Cocktail on its own, on purpose.

That original toe was lost in 1980 when a man who’d already had several Sourtoes accidentally swallowed it. Since then, some of the bar’s followup toes have been swallowed on purpose—despite a four-figure fine for doing that—and they’ve even been stolen (and eventually returned). In March 2018, Nick Griffiths, a former royal marine, lost several of his toes to frostbite during the gruelling Yukon Arctic Ultramarathon, and he generously agreed to donate them to the Dawson Hotel.

“When I was in hospital, I was in intensive care, so you’ve got pretty much two nurses in there with you the whole time. One of them said to me jokingly that ‘you’ll have to donate your toes to the Sourtoe Cocktail if you lose them.’ Then the doctor did the same thing and was laughing about it,” Griffiths told VICE.

“So when I was going down to get them amputated, I asked the surgeon is there any chance I can keep the toes and told him why. He laughed and said, ‘yup, they’re your toes.’ Sure enough, when I came round from the surgery next to the bed was three jars with my toes in them.”

In September, Griffiths traveled from his home in England to the Dawson Hotel to drink the cocktail, which used his own severed big toe. (Yes, he’s the first toe-donor to do this. Weird flex, etc. etc.)

It will be several months before Dick Stevenson’s toes have been sufficiently preserved and are, uh, eligible to be included in the bonkers drink that he gifted to this equally bonkers world. Rest in peace, Captain.



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Vegans Are Sharing the Most Pathetic Desserts They’ve Ever Been Served at Restaurants

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Right now on Twitter, Oreo is running a promoted tweet with a short video encouraging everyone to leave one specific brand of sandwich cookie for Santa this year. It’s just as cringe as it sounds, and the only reason we’re not dragging Oreo all the way to the North Pole and back for the line “slide my sleigh into your DMs” is because it’s the holidays.

Anyway, while Santa’s being demanding AF about his cookie selection, a vegan woman just wished she’d gotten any cookie—or any kind of real dessert, period—when she celebrated her birthday at a Melting Pot restaurant.

“I went out for my birthday and I’m vegan so they gave me a single slice of banana instead of cake,” the woman, who calls herself Yazmin on Twitter, posted, attaching a photo of that sad fruit piece, topped with an equally sad candle. (Obviously they couldn’t give her the entire banana, not when they’re going for $120,000 each.)

Someone surrounded this depressing still life with the words “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate syrup, and the way the last three letters in “Birthday” sat on each other’s shoulders just made the entire thing even more disheartening.

Her tweet collected almost 200 responses, and a significant number of them were from other vegans who had been served equally ridiculous attempts at “dessert” at restaurants. “One time i went out for my bday and they gave me a cup of ice with a cherry on top,” someone else responded. Another added that she’d just been given an entire cup of whipped cream—which she couldn’t eat, because it was a dairy product.

So many food crimes disguised as desserts were reported: a half-peeled orange with a candle on top. A fruit salad that only included two grapes and a strawberry. Cocoa mixed with sugar water. “I got a single strawberry, and I’m not even vegan,” another woman chimed in.

How is it, in 2019, the Year of Our Lizzo and Savior, that restaurants don’t have some kind of go-to vegan dessert on hand to pass out to guests who are celebrating something, whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or just the fact that they officially gave their last fuck earlier in the afternoon. (And if you’re thinking of treating vegans the same way you’d treat Santa, Oreo says that although its products are vegetarian-friendly, the cookies might have come into cross-contact with milk, so it doesn’t consider them to be officially vegan.)

But a vegan artist named Asher might have the right idea. “Went to Olive Garden on my birthday and they just gave me more breadsticks,” he tweeted.

Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s go with that.





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EASY VEGAN Mediterranean Lunch Bowls by @glowingly.well . Tag a friend in the co…

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EASY VEGAN Mediterranean Lunch Bowls😍🌱 by @glowingly.well
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My Favorite 2019 Food-Focused Charities

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This post originally appeared on December 7, 2019, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.


Though I’m not religious, I admire the principle of tithing — taking a portion (a tenth!) of your take-home income and giving it to the community. Conveniently, in the church that often means giving the money to … the church. But there are many faiths that encourage taking that tithe and giving it to worthy charities. I have a personal percentage I’ve tried to hit since my teenage waitressing days but I often forget about it until the very end of the year.

Now is a good time to take stock in charitable donations, whether that’s time or money, for 2019. And since last week’s newsletter was focused on my favorite food-related gifts to buy for the holidays, recommending some food-related charitable foundations could be a good counter-balance.

My go-to food charities include The Food Bank For New York City, Hot Bread Kitchen, La Cocina, Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, and Restaurant Opportunities Centers. I would love to learn about yours. If you want to send me your favorites to amanda@eater.com, I’ll make sure to list them in this space in the coming weeks.



ABC Pony
Rey Lopez


We talk about the phenomenon of holiday-themed bars and interview the founder of Miracle, who licenses out his pop-up concept to dozens of bars around America. Then we get into the biggest stories of the week.




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