One-Time Favorite Bar in Downtown Monterey On Its Way to Its Past Fun Glory
My favorite bar for a long time in Monterey was the Mucky Duck.
Oddly named, yes, but it more than a pond full of fun.
It was two places in one, an English pub in front with good food and a patio in the back. A true “PubClub” of a place in gentle area of the middle California coast.
One of my great party thrills is to drink beer outside, and for some odd reason this is nearly impossible in a California bar. Yet here in the small community of this gorgeous area just a 10-minute walk from the boats of Monterey Bay, you could do it. And I loved it.
It was a popular place but you were never crowded, and there were enough pretty girls to keep me going until closing. I always brought in friends – we came here frequently because we were all involved at the races at Laguna Seca – to show them this great place. And we always had a great time.
Suddenly, tho, things turned ugly.
The music had changed. The crowd had changed. And the Mucky Duck had changed.
It went from a highly desirable bar to a place to avoid. Imagine going to see a good friend only to have the door shut in your face. Show up at the doorstep of a former girlfriend whom you had a great relationship with, only to be pushed back out onto the street.
That became the Mucky Duck.
There were problems, even a shooting. Instead of taking people into the place, I led them to other Monterey bars – Lallapalooza, Cibo, which are still great – but through all this, I missed the Duck.
So imagine my pleasure when, in May of 2012, I left a crowded Lallapalooza to give the Mucky Duck another chance. The door guy was Schwarzenegger muscular and bald, and was wearing a vest, but instead of being intimating, he was as friendly at a Trader Joe’s employee. I mentioned my issues with the previous crowd but he kindly stopped me to say it’s not that way anymore. There’s new management, he said, and the quality of the crowd is no longer an issue.
One sweep confirmed this to be the case. While the large number of cute girls have yet to return, I was met with smiles everywhere from staff, patrons and even security. I felt secure again. Happy.
Even the fact they put a DJ in the pub area, normally a “let’s get out of here” cue, it became a focal point. He plays fun dance party music and the pub bounced to life. Prior to this, there’s a rock cover band on the patio.
The crowd is largely military – talk about security in a bar! – and pretty much know each other and the mingling is not what it used to be, but the Mucky Duck is back in my good graces.
It’s proof that you can indeed always go home again. And in Monterey, the Mucky Duck is one of my homes when it comes to bars.