Captain Dick Stevenson was 89 years old

By Robyn Merrett
November 18, 2019 08:11 PM
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Captain Dick Stevenson — the creator of Sourtoe Cocktail has died. He was 89.

Stevenson, known by his nickname Captain Dick, died Thursday morning, his daughter Dixie Stevenson confirmed to The Globe and Mail and CBC.

The former bartender’s legacy, however, will live forever.

Dixie explained to The Globe and Mail that in her father’s will, he asked that all 10 of his toes be taken to the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Canada where the cocktail is served.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only daughter in history that has to, following my dad’s will, make sure that his toes are removed and dried and make it up to Dawson City,” Dixie told CBC.

The famous drink consists of a shot of whiskey garnished with an amputated and preserved human toe.

Stevenson came up with the idea in 1973 after finding a jar with a preserved toe in it left behind in a cabin he had just purchased it, according to CBC and The Globe and Mail.

The concept took off and became the Downtown Hotel bar’s most popular drink, having been served to over 93,000 customers, according to The Globe and Mail. The drink even became a rite of passage for many as several visitors have donated their own toes to the bar.

WARNING: Some readers may find the image below disturbing

Sourtoe Cocktail
| Credit: Courtesy Downtown Hotel

The original drink was a beer glass filled with champagne and the toe, but Stevenson explained to CBC in 2017 that he changed the rules.

“There was a lady, she must have been in her 80s, she said, ‘I don’t mind the toe, but there’s no way I could drink a beer glass full of champagne,'” Stevenson told CBC. “So we changed the rules — drink of your choice, but the toe must touch the lips.”

Once the task is complete, a person can be inducted into the Sourtoe club and will receive a certificate, confirming the honor.

Dixie explained to The Globe and Mail that the drink was her father’s “life.”

“That was his life: inventor of the Sourtoe Cocktail,” Dixie said.

“He didn’t care anything about the money, he just wanted the fame to go on for the rest of history,” Dixie continued to the outlet adding, “It brought him the most fame of anything he’s ever done. Worldwide pretty much.”

Dixie also shared with The Globe and Mail that before his death, Stevenson commissioned a local artist to make a toe-shaped urn for his ashes. He then had a carpenter make a platform for the urn and it has already been installed above the Downtown Hotel bar.

Stevenson will certainly be missed as Stephen Lancaster, manager of the Downtown Hotel, explained to The Globe and Mail that members of the community are planning to honor him in a special way.

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Lancaster went on to reiterate Stevenson’s motto for the drink saying, “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.”

Dawson City has also paid tribute to the cocktail pioneer on Twitter writing, “Captain Dick was a true colorful five-percenter who changed Dawson’s brand. His legacy is cemented with the Sourtoe Cocktail, but we’ll always remember him for his undying love of Dawson City. Thanks for everything Dick, we’ll toest one for you tonight.”