Saturday, February 18, 2012

The day I joined 'the Club'

If that title doesn't make you curious enough to read further, almost nothing will...

You'd have to be a pretty incurious sort to not at least want to find out which club it is I joined - the Playboy Club? The Hair Club for Men (and now Women, I see)? The Press Club? The Rod and Gun Club? The Explorers Club?

While I wouldn't mind joining some of those above-mentioned clubs (and would like avoid a few, if possible), if you guessed any of those, you guessed wrong.

I'm talking about joining ... (drum roll, please!) ...

The Sour Toe Cocktail Club!

Of course, what else, would it be?

I am actually celebrating my second anniversary of having joined that illustrious club, so I figured I should shout it to the world (or at least the Internet!)

For those not familiar with the Sour Toe Cocktail (or without the inclination to click on the link above, because you just can't tear yourself away from my riveting prose!), essentially, it involves taking a shot of your favorite liquor libation which also shares a glass with a (get ready for this) a sour toe - that is, an actual human toe that has been dehydrated and preserved in salt.

And - get this - in order to actually qualify, you have to drink the drink and let the toe touch your lips at some point while drinking.

Like the club motto says, "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow - but the lips have gotta touch the toe."

Only in Canada, you say ...

The tradition began in Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory. Originally, the toe (the original one thought to have been "donated" by some "sourdough" from the Klondike Gold Rush days, probably one lost through frostbite while mushing down the trail) had to be placed in a beer glass full of champagne in order to be an official, genuine Sour Toe Cocktail.

These days, it's a bit more relaxed, it can be any drink - even non-alcoholic, apparently - but where's the fun in that?

Captain Dick welcomes me to the fraternity.

Now ideally, you would become a member of the club by drinking the cocktail in the Yukon. However, Yours Truly became a member in Vancouver, during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Like many other tourism boards, Tourism Yukon hosted an event during the Games.

It was at that event I had the opportunity to sit down with Captain Dick, the official head of the club, and became a member of this illustrious group. So in a sense, I was sort of on "Yukon soil," kind of like when you're at a Russian embassy in a foreign country, you're considered to be on Russian soil.

Anyway, I sat beside the captain, and I had a choice of rye whiskey, rum, vodka or tequila to mix with my toe. Sadly, there was no Yukon Jack available, that would have been my ideal choice. But, my second choice was whiskey.

A friend of mine, fellow travel writer Lenora Hayman, stood by to snap a picture of the momentous occasion. However, her camera was not as fast as my quaffing ability - I picked up the drink, belted it back - and she still hadn't got the pic.

So I did the only thing I could - I froze in stop-action mode, holding the glass up to my mouth, the toe resting against my lips, all the liquor drained.
For half a second, I toyed with the idea of putting the tip of my tongue on it to really see what the toe tasted like, but common sense quickly overruled that, and the picture was taken. Whew!

It didn't really taste that bad, the whiskey was good, went down quick - and I became a card-carrying club member for life.

By the way, although you get a membership card and certificate, you don't get to keep the toe - you have to give it back.

Now, if you want an opportunity to join this elite group, this would be a perfect year - in fact, this month would be the perfect month to do so. The Yukon is hosting its 2012 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Feb. 23-26, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Alaska Highway (also known as the Alcan Highway).

 Snowshoeing, one winter activity you can enjoy in the Yukon.

Even if you can't make that date, a trip to the Yukon at any of the year will give you the opportunity to become a member of the Sour Toe Cocktail Club, as well as providing plenty of other excellent travel adventures, including paddling trips and bird-watching in the summer, or dog-sledding and snowshoeing if you prefer to visit during the winter.

Can't make it? Well, you can always buy Sour Toe memorabilia online - even a chocolate sour toe or two.

But, of course, that won't make you a member of the club ...

1 comment:

  1. Oh. My. God. You have a set on you made of brass! I've done some pretty weird stuff, but this is out there! Wow! John, you have highly impressed me!