By Joni Williams
The Swamp, closed? Permanently? We’re not sure what to think about that. We have a lot of good memories that go way, way back—the bands, the beer, the bubbles. But when Spring Break 2016 rolls around, the area’s pillar of partying will not be reopening for the first time in about 16 years. RIP, Swamp, and thanks for the memories.
The good news is that while some of the area’s legendary clubs may be calling it quits—Destin’s Nightown is also closing down just shy of its 40th birthday—there are new shiny faces moving in, eager to win your biz. Which might be why one of them is randomly giving away free pizza.
At least that’s the rumor going ‘round about Duck Duck, the new place down on the Harbor. So we rustled up our best investigative journalist skills and stopped by incognito to check them—and their beer list—out. Happy hours aside, who in their right mind would be giving away tasty pizza?
Chris Sehman, that’s who. Turns out the newest member of the Helen Back family won’t have a kitchen, but one or two food truck offering those almost famous pizza pies and nachos. Until Duck Duck gets the food gig nailed down, lucky customers are sporadically treated to FREE samples of Helen Back pie, imported from the “Mother Ship” just up the road. But that’s pretty much where the sharing ends. Though they may share the same proprietor, Duck Duck is a whole different animal. Or fowl. Whatever.
Duck Duck does have a full bar, but they feature their own signature drinks made with—wait for it—Grey Goose! Our fave? The cute little mango-orange, vodka-laced Duck Duck Juice, served up with its own rubber ducky. Awwwww.
As always, we were sure to check out the beer, which we expected to be at least similar to Helen Back’s selection. We couldn’t have been more wrong. For starters, they mostly serve their brews in beach-friendly cans so you can walk along the Harbor without any worries of leaving a trail of unintended broken glass.
The selection is way more varied, too, and includes tried-and-true hits by Abita, Angry Orchard, Red Stripe, Blue Moon, Heineken, Corona, New Belgium, Coors, Bud Light and so on. We love that they have our new crush, ginger beer, plus non-alcoholic beer and root beer. They also feature two canned selections by local brewer Idyll Hounds, Divide & Conch’r and Man O’ Wheat.
Of the two, the citrusy, golden, sorta-sweet Divide & Conch’r is the most buzz-worthy with its whopping eight percent ABV—an imperial IPA indeed. At just under five percent, the also golden but less potent Man O’ Wheat, obviously a wheat ale (hence the name), is much more mild tasting though slightly hoppy and bitter. If you’re washing down some of that freebie pizza or soon-to-come nachos, this would do the job well.
You can expect both in the near future, as well as designated Happy Hour times and specialty nights, maybe even some live music from time to time. Right now they have a DJ on weekends playing to what we’re told is a packed house. Even on a weeknight, we could see the open-air Duck Duck has already established some regulars, thanks in part to the ample number of heat lamps that keep the place toasty warm.
Even more important, the service here is excellent. We’re told the staff has been handpicked, plucked not only from sister Helen Back locations but also the Swamp. Now if they could only get that dang bubble machine…
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