Ex-Marine Donates Amputated Toe To Be Used In Hotel's Cocktail
A former Royal Marine has donated his amputated toe to a Canadian hotel to be served in its signature cocktail - the 'sourtoe'.
Nick Griffiths, 47, was competing in a gruelling 300-mile ultra-marathon last year when he was forced to pull out after suffering from severe frostbite on his left foot and ended up having three digits removed.
But one canny nurse, who clearly believes in the old adage 'waste not, want not', was quick to tell poor Nick about Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, and its famous beverage.
For almost half a century, tourists have been flocking there to sample the signature drink which has a desiccated human toe floating inside. Mmmm, think I'll pass, thanks.
According to locals, "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe."
But after being told about the bizarre tradition, Nick was all for it. He said: "[The nurse] showed me a video of it and I thought it was funny. That's why I asked the Manchester surgeon to give me my amputated toes."
His toe was sent to the hotel and it will now take six weeks for it to be mummified in rock salt before it can be added to the drink.
Hotel bosses have now invited Nick, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, back out to Canada later this year so he can drink a toast with his toe.
He said: "I wasn't going to need the toes so I thought it would be fun to donate them."
The hotel's manager, Adam Gerle, said: "We couldn't be happier to receive a new toe. They are very hard to come by these days."
Following the mummification process, Nick's toes will join three others currently in circulation at the hotel bar.
'Toe-master' Terry Lee said Nick's digit was a 'phenomenal' find. He said: "The big toe is the money toe, we usually don't get frostbitten toes.
"Usually, they're from gout or diabetes, or they're lawnmowers or chainsaws or accidents.... To get a frostbitten toe, that's phenomenal."
The tradition began in 1973 when Yukon riverboat captain Dick Stevenson discovered a preserved toe in an abandoned cabin and used it to found the Sourtoe Cocktail Club and codify its rules.
To date, the club has more than 100,000 members.
Nick had trained for more than a year for the Yukon Arctic Ultra racing series - which sees temperatures plummet to minus 50 degrees - in February last year, but wasn't able to cross the finish line.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors told him he had third-degree frostbite and bathed his hands and feet in hot water.
After several days in intensive care, he flew back to the UK and staff at Royal Bolton Hospital referred him to Wythenshawe, which has a specialist burns unit.
Nick said: "They amputated the big toe and the next two toes on my left foot in a three-hour operation.
"People told me I might have problems with my balance and a limp but apart from not being able to wear flip-flops, I'm absolutely fine. I was very lucky."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS