Baby, Duck!

This weekend I was treated to a blast from the past.  We invited friends over for dinner, and one couple arrived bearing a bottle of Baby Duck.

For those unfamiliar with Baby Duck, it’s a ‘wine’ that was introduced to Canada in the early 1970s:  fizzy grape juice with lots of sugar, some alcohol, and a generous dollop of successful marketing.  Oenophiles may recoil in horror, but the truth is Baby Duck was part of the formative drinking years of an entire generation.

The friend who brought it this weekend confessed that she drank Baby Duck for the first/last time at a party long ago where she singlehandedly polished off one and a half bottles… and has never drunk it again.

So many people had their first disastrous drinking experience with Baby Duck that the name became a bit of a joke.  As the victims fled for the bathroom, stomachs heaving, a sardonic cheer would go up from the rest of the revelers as they scattered to provide a clear path:  “Baby, duck!”

My very  first drinking experience was as a young teenager, maybe fourteen or fifteen.  One day our family departed the sticks and went to the Big City for a family visit, and my city cousin took me out for Chinese food.

Imagine the importance of this event in the life of a backward young hick!  I’d never had Chinese food.  And my almost-grown-up cousin (she had a driver’s license and a car…!) was taking me out, just the two of us, like adults.  And when we got to the restaurant, she casually ordered us each a Singapore Sling!  (Even though we were both too young to drink I guess we looked close enough – we didn’t get asked for ID.  Times were simpler then.)

My parents had both come from non-drinking households, but they figured the safest way to protect their kids from dangerous rebellion was to introduce the concept of responsible drinking.  So they had already explained the concepts of alcohol and intoxication, and every now and then they drank a glass of wine with dinner while we were growing up.  They didn’t make a big deal of it, but we understood that alcohol was an adult thing.

So I was wildly excited by the grown-up meal… and I was afraid I’d get drunk and embarrass myself.  I still recall how yummy the almond chicken was, and I still recall wondering if I was drunk yet because I didn’t feel any different after one cocktail that was probably mostly fruit juice.

Needless to say when I went off to university a few years later I discovered that you’re not actually drunk until you’ve consumed seven Zombies (three kinds of rum, apricot brandy, and fruit juice) a couple of Brown Cows (Kahlua and cream) and then topped it off with a couple of warm beers that nobody else dared to drink.  (Gee, I wonder why…?)

I’ve been blessed with a cast-iron stomach and a lightning-fast metabolism, so that night I staggered home laughing all the way and fell into the dreamless slumber of the just and the intoxicated.  My drinking buddy at the time wasn’t so lucky – she spent the entire night talking to Ralph on the great white telephone and silently cursing my oblivious snores.

I think she’s forgiven me after more than three decades, but she’ll never forget.

Anybody else remember their first drinking experience?  Or prefer to forget it?

49 thoughts on “Baby, Duck!

  1. I also remember the Cold Duck, Sloe Gin Fizz, and Mad Dog 20/20, but I was too much of a wimp to ever get blitzed on any of those starter drinks while I was underage. A little taste was all I dared. No, I waited until I was 18 (legal age then) and went nuts with Rob Roys. It was my best friend’s wedding the next day, and although I had never even HEARD of Hen Nights, or Bachelorettes etc, my other friend and I felt that the thing to do was to get a bit drunk and try to talk our engaged friend out of her ill-fated marriage. Of course, she went through with it, sealing the end to the friendship, because, apparently, it is impossible to be married and still have friends. I had 3 big tumblers of that nastiness, and unlike you, Diane, my metabolism has never done well with alcohol, and even though I ditched what I could of that unholy mixture as soon as I got home, I had a hellish hangover that lasted days. I only got that drunk once more- years later, and again on scotch, and I will never again volunteer to drink scotch or its alcoholic siblings, cousins or friends. In fact, it is a rare event for me to drink at all, and when I do, it is never more than 2 servings an evening, and only if there is zero chance that I will need to drive. I applaud how responsible your characters are about alcohol and safe sex. Is this what happens to old fogies like us?


    • Ay-yi-yi! I looked up the recipe for Rob Roys and it made my stomach lurch just reading it! I like a little drink of single malt every now and then, but the thought of consuming any more than an ounce or two holds no appeal at all.

      I have to admit I’ve been an old fogey about drinking and driving all my life – one of my childhood friends spent six weeks in traction after being hit by a drunk driver. So no drinks at all for me if I’m getting behind the wheel. But now I can tell myself it’s no sacrifice because I don’t need the extra calories anyway. *sigh* It sucks to get old. 😉


    • I envy my younger self, too. Drink all evening, eat a giant pizza at one AM, drink some more, study for a couple of hours, sleep for a couple of hours, and wake up ready to take on the world. These days I’d settle for just being able to take on the world.


  2. Oh what a fun topic one once close to my heart! Diane please do not doom yourself by saying you have a cast iron stomach and no discernible hangovers…..the gods may be listening. I remember saying that just before I hit 50. I could drink just about anything in rather enormous quantities (except Frangelico…ughhhh…bad memories there) throughout my college days into the twenties, thirties and forties. These days a glass of wine cut with soda nursed throughout the evening is sufficient. I still smile at a picture taken of moi in the ’70’s I would say, passed out cold on a flokati rug in a long white Mexican dress, hands crossed on my chest and someone had stuck a rose under my hands. Thank heavens there was no social media back then.


    • LOL! Oh, that photo sounds priceless! It might be fun to post now, but at the time… maybe not so much. 😉 And you’re right, I probably shouldn’t have taunted the gods when my big 5-0 is coming up in a few months. Then again, these days it’s unusual for me to drink more than a beer or two anyway, so my hangover risk is probably pretty low. (Said she, optimistically…)


  3. Diane I don’t know if I remember the first but I certainly remember Baby Duck, Strawberry Angel and oh the terrible lemon gin. I do recall having to deliver my friend home to her parents after a bottle of that. Not pretty. Gulp.


      • Sorry, I misled you there. Ripple was a brand of seriously el cheapo wine. It came in a few different flavors, none of which were very good. The motto that its adherents coined was “Ripple cripples.” That is, it would disable those who overindulged. Didn’t take much. It wasn’t all that potent, it was just really crummy stuff.

        A variant made famous by Red Foxx (Sanford and Son TV show) back in the 70s or so was Champipple. A mixture of beer and Ripple wine. It never caught on with the folks I hung out with. One taste was enough. More than enough. MUCH more than enough. 🙂


  4. Looking back over some of other posters memories and more of my own, I realize why I “retired” a half dozen, at least, Guardian Angels over the years. (not the group with the neat hats that stroll the New York streets either) I’m so glad I found out that my tolerance for alcohol was low and that I wasn’t a fan of hang overs. Just one of those made me pretty much quit drinking for a long, long time. About once a year now is all I care to do and that’s to usher in the New Year. I stay sober so I can lie to others about what they did, since they can’t remember. LOL I’m evil that way but sometimes it’s worth it. hehehe


    • Ha! I love it! Sobriety is a potent weapon of blackmail.

      I’ve never actually had a hangover – I think my body just deals with the alcohol while I’m sleeping and I wake up with nothing more than a craving for greasy eggs, hashbrowns, sausages, and black coffee. But I’ve also never been so drunk I couldn’t make it home on my own two legs, and at this stage of my life I don’t have any particular hankering to change that. 😉


  5. Boonesfarm!!! Strawberry Hill & Apple.

    We have a park (that stretches for 12 miles) called Hines Dr.. We had moved from Detroit to a suburb called (North) Dearborn Heights by time was a teen. so early 70s all the hippies hung out in our prtion called Gulley Turn around and then down the trail along the rouge river (in streets) our high school freaks hung out at “The Swing”.

    Anyway we were playing some game called 7 Buzz, (don’t ask me the details because menopause madness has my mind gone). I must have consumed two whole bottles in a very short time because I would turn my head to the left and the atmosphere LOL was slowly catching up, then to the right the same. I busted out laughing realizing I was completely trashed.

    1971….ripped out of my gourd at 14, how I wish I could step into a time machine and go back to that particular place & time with my friends I had then. Next Tues. I’ll be 57. I feel like 500, but still look like I’m in my late 30s. Rather look old and feel good.

    Yep, good old Boonesfarm then switched over to Budweiser. LOL


    • It must be nice to look that good, but you’re right – youth is completely wasted on the young. I figure we should be born old and creaky and then gradually get younger and healthier. Then we’d know how to appreciate it (complete with strawberry wine). 😉 Happy birthday next week!


  6. I someone who routinely crossed the border for the express purpose of buying alcohol, I have a vague remembrance of Baby Duck. Interestingly my hometown is where Mad Dog 20/20 is made. It’s pretty the American version of Baby Duck.


  7. Ah, the days of Mateus, Thunderbird, Apricot brandy and Depth charges (a shot of whiskey dropped into a glass of beer).

    The result was akin to your friend “talking to Ralph on the great white telephone” or “driving the green Buick” or “praying to the porcelain God.”


  8. Mateus brand wine was dr riguer in my day – not so much for the vino, but for the basket weaving on the outside. Anyone with any sort of self-respect used the empty wine bottles for candle holders. The go-to drink for we newbies in the late 60’s was lemon gin. I can’t recall my first drinking episode only because it was unremarkable. My first near blackout, I however can recall, and yes, I prefer to forget it.


  9. Baby Duck–sounds like I moved out of Canada before I ever learned about that interesting concoction (I lived there between 3rd and 8th grade). I bet it’s really low in calories, too. 😉 As an added bonus, do you get a purple tongue from drinking it?


    • Oh, I’m sure it’s very nutritious and low-cal, but it doesn’t actually turn your tongue purple. If you want a purple tongue, you need to drink Purple Jesus, which is a mixture of vodka and grape Koolaid popular during my university days. Or you could just strangle yourself until your tongue turns purple. Ultimately that would cause you less misery…


      • Never heard of a Purple Jesus, but there was a Purple Passion. Similar I think but it was grape juice and Vodka. hahaha Had a blind date once and it turned out to be with a guy that was 37 years old. I was 18! We both wound up laughing about the “blind date”, sat in my car outside his soon to be ex-wife’s house while he did a stake out to see if she was stealing any of his stuff. Oh lordy! He turned out to be a nice guy, nothing unbecoming happened and I went home with a pretty nice memory that not all blind dates are really disasters. Also a good lesson that Purple Passions should only be indulged with someone you can trust. I was lucky.


  10. My first bout with drinking was at 17 and involved a Sloe Gin Fizz. I think I spelled that right. That stuff tastes just like strawberry soda and the fizz just tickles all the way down. Wheeeee. Then it tickles all the way back up again, and again, and again. Not a real happy treat. After several of them, lost count at 3, you realize you have no legs. Yep, not good at all. When your friends have to literally drag you to the bathroom, quickly and unceremoniously, and in front of the hot hunk you thought you could impress, (oh gads, that’s a whole ‘nother side to that story) you rapidly change your mind about the “art” of drinking. Since then, when and if I drink, I limit myself to 2. That’s it, 2 and I sip them a long, long, time.


    • I remember those. Vaguely. (Further, deponent sayeth not.) But I will say that there are only two ways to drink them…either sitting down, or standing up. One or the other. Not both.

      Don’t remember Baby Duck, but do remember Cold Duck. Wife and I emptied a bottle of that stuff on our first anniversary a hunnerd or two years ago. There almost wasn’t a Second anniversary. 🙂


        • Mutation? As in, having to do with mutants? Probably. Variant? I doubt it. Deviant? Yeah, that’s more like it.

          Had a big laugh the other day with daughter-in-law’s parents. It seems they had a similar experience with Cold Duck back in the day. Who knew?

          I was in the Army back in the bad old days, and you could always tell when it was a long time since payday. The drinking material got cheaper and cheaper. The absolute bottom of the barrel was, if memory serves, Red Mountain Vin Rose’. It came in a clear gallon jug with the finger loop up by the screw-on lid. In about 1969 it cost a whopping $1.56 a gallon. The only reason it wasn’t labeled poison was that you couldn’t get enough of the stuff down–and keep it there– to kill you.

          I’m so much wiser now that I’m mature and all. 🙂

          We need to form a club. With t-shirts that say, DUCK!! DUCK!! THE CHEAP WINE IS COMING!!!

          Oh, the humanity!


    • Oh, yikes! I was cringing the whole time I was reading! Somehow strawberry-flavoured alcoholic drinks seem particularly inhospitable to one’s digestive system.

      Thank God for friends. And for hot hunks, too, but not at the same time as Sloe Gin Fizz. 😉


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