Rubber Ducky

tossed salad in big wooden bowl on counter filled with ingredients

On Jan. 10, 1992, the Greek container ship Ever Laurel ran into rough weather in the North Pacific, a couple of days out from Tacoma. At some point a stack of six shipping containers snapped its chains and plunged overboard into the Pacific Ocean.

This kind of accident isn’t common but it’s also not unheard of. On average around 1,500 shipping containers are lost at sea each year. This is a tiny percentage of the estimated 500 million containers in use, but also nothing to shrug at.

What made this particular accident noteworthy is that one of the containers was filled with 28,000 bath toys, including 7,200 yellow rubber duckies.

Over the next several years the toys were carried north by ocean currents, eventually traveling through the Northwest Passage north of Canada, and dispersed by other currents around the world. Even now some of these toys are still washing up in unexpected places. They have been found as far away as the United Kingdom, Australia and Chile. Now that there is less Arctic sea ice than ever, some plastic ducks, turtles and beavers are being released to a new generation of beach-combers.

As I’m sure you’re aware, National Rubber Ducky Day is this weekend. You are probably still in the process of getting rid of other holiday ornaments, and haven’t had time to shop for rubber ducks, but if you’re feeling a little spent, gray and empty with the start of a new year, it’s probably worth raising a glass to our plastic yellow friends and reflecting on the fact that things could always be worse. You could spend 30 years, bobbing and smiling, through Arctic Sea ice.

Rubber Ducky Cocktail

  • 1½ ounces Midori melon liqueur
  • 1½ ounces 99 Peaches peach schnapps
  • 2½ ounces fresh watermelon juice (see below)
  • ¾ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

Open your laptop, and place it on the counter next to you.

Open YouTube, and search for Hampenberg DuckToy Vocal Club Mix.

Turn your volume up to an unconscionable level and press play. This will be the perfect background music for mixing this drink. You’re ready now.

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake enthusiastically.

Pour, including ice, into a rocks glass.

Sip, vibing seamlessly — or, if you are like me, shuffling awkwardly — to the rubber ducky club mix playing on your computer.

This is a shockingly fun cocktail. The melon juice and the melon liqueur obviously go well together. The peach schnapps provides a floral fruitiness. By itself watermelon juice is surprisingly flat, but the acid from a jolt of lime juice brings it to life. This doesn’t exactly taste like bubble gum, but it also doesn’t not taste like gum of some sort. At first glance this might seem flighty and low-octane — and that may be true of the Midori — but the 99 Peaches actually clocks in at 99 proof, so this is not a drink to take for granted. Like a rubber ducky lost at sea, it might take you to unexpected places.

Watermelon Juice

Buy a one-quart container of pre-cubed watermelon at your supermarket. You aren’t going to be laying this out on a fruit plate or pairing with a nice prosciutto, so it’s OK to cut a corner during this process.

Pour the contents of the container into your blender and blend thoroughly. If you notice a seed or two, don’t panic; your blender will take care of things. If you have an over-powered, overly enthusiastic blender like mine, he will probably look on any seeds as a challenge.

Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain off the watermelon pulp. Leave everything in the strainer for half an hour or so, to let the components say goodbye to each other.

This should net you about 12 ounces of juice. If you want to drink it as juice, add the juice of half a lime to de-flatten it (see above).

Featured photo: Rubber Ducky Cocktail. Photo by John Fladd.

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