Cocktail Spotlight - "Harvey Wallbanger"

No matter how many you consume, you'll never forget your first Harvey Wallbanger. November 8th is "National Harvey Wallbanger Day" and I am here to illustrate it's strange and intriguing history. This classic drink has made a splash in the annals of cocktail history thanks to it's unique and memorable name. According to drink mythology, it was named after a surfer in the 1950's. After losing in a surfing competition in Cali, the downtrodden surfer dude, Tom Harvey, went to his regular bar and ordered his favorite concoction - orange juice and vodka with a float of Galliano. As he became quickly inebriated drinking it like water, he banged his head against the wall venting his frustration. In cocktail circles, this drink became the "Harvey Wallbanger".

The drink didn't become a household name until the 1970's when the marketing director, Harry Bednar, of McKesson Imports, that handled the unfamiliar liqueur, Galliano (Italian), found out about the cocktail from the bartender who first served to Harvey. Bednar told everyone about it and advertised it as a viable replacement for the brunch drink, the Bloody Mary. Late in 1969, the cartoon figure Harvey Wallbanger was born and his famous line "Harvey Wallbanger is the name and I can be made".

The famed cocktail spread across the globe and served at parties, train cars, and by the bottle. People started naming their pets after the drink and soon Harvey Wallbanger cakes were being sold. The craze went on for many years, but as with most fads, it eventually fizzed out. Galliano never really became understood. Do you remember that tall, thin clear bottle with yellowish liquid sitting on the back bar collecting dust in the 80's and 90's? That's it!

Today, Harvey Wallbangers are being re-marketed as the original and different twists according to the marketing director at the Lucas Bols company. It basically tastes like a Screwdriver (vodka and o.j.) with a hint of vanilla from the Galliano. Don't be surprised if when you frequent your neighborhood bar that you don't see it. It's expensive, doesn't fit in many bars, and just isn't used in many drinks. To be honest, I have never served it in a drink other than the Harvey Wallbanger, but there is something to be said about trying an osbcure, but very refreshing drink.

The phrase Harvey wallbanger has been adopted over the years, including:

– The SAS referred to C4 explosive charges as Harvey wall-bangers
– Harvey Wallbanger is sometimes used to refer to the Wall Follower maze solving algorithm
– In CB slang, a Harvey Wallbanger is a drunk driver who zig zags across the road
– Harvey Wallbanger was references in the movies See No Evil, Hear no Evil and Knight and Day.

What’s your Harvey Wallbanger?

Some of the variations, include a Freddy Fudpucker (Tequila), Whiskey Wallbanger, the Whipped Banger, and the De-Constructed Harvey. Lucas Bols is encouraging people around the world to report Harvey Wallbanger sightings on a menu, on TV, or advertised online by tweeting #FindHarvey.

 

Original Harvey Wallbanger

  • 3 parts vodka
  • 6 parts pulp-free orange juice
  • 1 part Galliano L'Authentico (a must - no substitute)
  • Garnish orange wedge and maraschino cherry (optional)

Prep - Pour vodka in an ice-filled collins glass, or tall highball glass, fill with o.j. almost to the top, float Galliano on top - don't stir. Garnish fruit and voila! Easy to make and simple cocktail, but comes with so much history.

 

Deconstructed Harvey

  • ​3 parts Aviation Gin
  • 6 parts Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 part Galliano L'Authentico (accept no substitute)
  • 3 dashes of Peychaud's bitters
  • Garnish orange twist speared with maraschino cherry

​Prep - Add bitters, gin, and o.j. to an ice-filled collins glass almost to the top. Stir. Float Galliano on top - don't stir. Garnish fruit.

 

This drink could have been created as one of those "all I got in the bar" drinks. Supposedly, the host of a party in the mid 60's had only vodka, orange juice and Galliano available. After a couple of these drinks a guest named Harvey was found to be banging his head against the wall and cursing the drink that caused him his misery. As such, the Harvey Wallbanger was born and, of course, that is just one story.

No matter how it got its start, this is a great drink that is catching some light again and reminds many of the disco days of the 70's.

(Cover photo courtesy of Chilled Magazine)

Cheers, Michael

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