The middle of the 20th century was the golden age of funny-named and sugary cocktails. The Harvey Wallbanger is one of the icons of the era (just like these classic cocktails and their respective eras).
The Harvey Wallbanger is essentially an upscale screwdriver, marrying the orange juice and vodka standard in the brunch mainstay with the Italian herbal liqueur Galliano, and garnished with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice for garnish. Made since the 1890s, Galliano is a liqueur highlighted by vanilla and anise, though is it made with up to 30 herbal ingredients.
First emerging as an official Galliano recipe in the early 1970s, it’s fairly accepted history is that it originated somewhere in California in the 1950s — there’s even a story about a surfer frequenting a bar helmed by bartender Donato Antone. More popular, however, is the belief Galliano and its American importer, McKesson Imports Company, nurtured the recipe and helped market it in America with a cartoon surfer named Harvey.
The surfer also had his tagline: “Harvey Wallbanger is the name. And I can be made!”
“Harvey Wallbanger is the name. And I can be made!”
Made he was during the middle of the last century, whether it be in single servings or by the bowlful.
A drink of its times — a time much of America still apparently longs for — the Harvey Wallbanger isn’t made all that much anymore, but it does still have its own month (November) and day (November 8). Then again, what drink doesn’t have its own day or month?
The Harvey Wallbanger is not likely a cocktail threatening a riveting comeback, but it’s worth a try if you’ve never hard one, as are many of the other drinks of the era, like Tequila Sunrise, Blue Hawaii, and Mudslides. (Then again, maybe those will be making a comeback soon at a bar near you?)
With the rise of liqueurs, it might be time to pick up a bottle of Galliano anyway. Since a Harvey Wallbanger is an easy drink to put together, give it a shot at one of the many holiday get-togethers in the coming weeks or throw one together for a houseguest on Christmas morning. (Christmas morning brunch cocktails, anyone? Santa may have gotten cookies and milk, but you’re getting booze and orange juice. We know who the winner is in that equation.)
But aside from the actual drink, perhaps the best part is the name. The name is so well known that it’s been taken for a variety of other uses. The 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, led by manager Harvey Kuenn, were dubbed Harvey’s Wallbangers, leading the league in home runs and total bases. On CB Radio, a Harvey Wallbanger is a driver who might be drunk and drifting lane to lane. So, if you’re a baseball player named Harvey, use the name as much as possible. A truck driver who loves a kicked-up Fuzzy Navel? Maybe not.
How to Make a Harvey Wallbanger
- 3 parts vodka
- 1 part Galliano
- 6 parts orange juice
- Orange Slice
Method: Mix the vodka and orange juice together in a highball glass full of ice and top off with Galliano. Garnish with cherry and orange slice.