Home Sea Fare Claim to Fame

Claim to Fame

by James O. Fraioli
Fluffy Duck Cocktail
Photo by Charity Burggraaf

By James O. Fraioli and Chef Bill Shaw/ Photography by Charity Burggraaf

Hanging outside the entrance of Roche Harbor’s Madrona Grill is a simple wooden sign declaring the bustling pub as the “Home of the Fluffy Duck.” If you haven’t had a “Duck on the Deck,” as the locals put it, you can’t say you’ve experienced the spirit of Roche Harbor.

Little is known about the origin of this famed cocktail, but legend tells of a traveling bartender, who in the early 1970s visited Roche Harbor looking for work. During his job interview, he stopped the questioning and exclaimed: “I am the finest bartender in all the land. I will create a cocktail so famous boaters will voyage from near and far to taste its brilliance.”With one leap, he vaulted over the bar, filled a glass with a blur of ingredients, and with the flip of his wrist and a pretty-boy wink, a creamy orange concoction appeared in a frosty glass with a glistening cherry on top. As if in a hypnotic trance, the manager placed his lips to the glass, took a sip of the mysterious cocktail, pounded his fist on the bar, and is said to have proclaimed: “This is the finest cocktail I have tasted, and from this day forward we will call it The Fluffy Duck.” Two days later, the traveling bartender left with the hostess, the manager’s yacht, a few cases of vodka and gin, and was never seen or heard from again.

Every year, the Madrona Grill tries to get a little closer to the exact recipe first created by the mysterious bartender. This recipe—which appears in the cookbook ROCHE: A Culinary Journey through San Juan Island’s Illustrious Harbor, whichI had the privilege of working on with Rich Komen, Brent Snow, and Chef Bill Shaw—is the closest one yet.


Serves 1

½ ounce Ketel One vodka
½ ounce Tanqueray gin
½ ounce Bacardi light rum
½ ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice

½ ounce grenadine
½ ounce heavy cream
¼ ounce Galliano

Whipped cream, orange slice, and a maraschino cherry for garnish Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the vodka, gin, rum, orange juice, grenadine, and heavy cream. Place the top on the shaker and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Pour into a frozen pint glass, then float a splash of Galliano over the top. Garnish with whipped cream, a slice of orange on the side of the glass, and crown with a maraschino cherry.

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