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Bartender who founded legendary Sourtoe Cocktail dies

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DAWSON CITY, Yukon – The founder of the legendary Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon, poured his final glass of the well-known canned whiskey drink.

Dick Stevenson, the former bartender known by the nickname of Captain Dick, has died. He was 89 years old.

Stephen Lancaster, manager of Dawson Hotel, where the tradition of the Sourtoe Cocktail continues, said customers on Saturday at Sourdough Saloon and community members were deeply saddened by Stevenson's death on Thursday in Whitehorse.

"When I walked into the bar last night, it was a very sad feeling to know that we lost someone who was really important to the history of the place," he said. "We are very sad about this and we want to honor it somehow, and we are trying to figure out a way to do it."

Lancaster said the lounge has records of more than 93,000 brave customers who are members of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club started by Stevenson.

"You can drink fast, slowly, but your lips should touch your toe," says the club's motto, which involves drinking a shot of whiskey from a glass that also contains a canned human big toe. Lancaster said he expects the club to reach 100,000 members this summer.

Stevenson fits the image of a Yukon gold prospector with beard, cap, and friendly, witty behavior, Lancaster said.

"He's exactly what he looks like," he said. "He's a fun, friendly guy you just want to talk to and hear his stories about. We almost want to have a quiet moment to honor what he's done here."

Stevenson came up with the idea of ​​the drink in 1973, after finding an ice-crushed human finger preserved in a jar in the booth he bought.

Lancaster said the Sourtoe Cocktail tradition will continue with Stevenson in the mix – his will calls for his two big toes to be preserved for future drinks.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 16, 2019.

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