by PINK LADY
VODKA has been the most popularly consumed spirit for the majority of our careers behind the bar. Prior to Prohibition, however, vodka wasn’t on the radar of American imbibers, who preferred strong tasting home grown liquors and flavorful white spirits like gin. John Martin, and his Connecticut-based company Heubelein Inc., which also produced A1 Steak Sauce, can be credited for starting the craze in the late 193Os, with “Smirnoff White Whiskey — No Smell, No Taste” their early promotional tagline.
Despite lore pointing to a California origin, the Harvey Wallbanger was mostly likely born in Connecticut too. As the story is often told, the Harvey Wallbanger was invented by a man named Donato “Duke” Antone in 1952 at his Blackwatch Bar on Sunset Boulevard, and named for a Manhattan Beach surfer named Tom Harvey, who wiped out during a big surfing competition, had one too many of these delicious libations at the bar afterwards, and ended up banging his head against the wall. Cocktail historians David Wondrich and Robert Simonson have been hot on the trail of this tale, and have come away with a few data points that suggest it may in fact be a tall one. Donato, for example, helmed a bartending school in Connecticut from 1949, and spent 14 years “perfecting its curriculum” there. Additionally, there’s no real record of himself or said bar in California during the 195Os.
While no one really knows who came up with the Harvey Wallbanger name or story, George Bednar can be credited with making it, and the drink, spread far and wide. In 1969 he was Marketing Director for the company that imported Galliano to the US, and was able to parlay the Harvey Wallbanger persona into a dopey cartoon surfer character drawn by Bill Young. Harvey’s image was plastered on all manner of swag and passed out at bar promotions with various and sundry gimmicks: women fed Harvey Wallbangers to men from baby bottles and whoever finished first won a prize. The brand sponsored bowling teams, tennis clubs, and hung banners over the Jersey Shore. They even ran “Harvey for President” in 1972. All the marketing hoopla worked, making Galliano was the number one imported spirit in the 197Os.
Several years back, Galliano returned to its original recipe, making the Harvey Wallbanger a refreshingly herbal departure from its cousin, the Screwdriver. Have a sip while you scour Ebay for some vintage “Elect Harvey Wallbanger” pins to add to your collection.
THE HARVEY WALLBANGER
.75 ounces of Galliano L’Autentico
1.5 ounces of vodka
4 ounces of fresh squeezed OJ
Mix vodka and orange juice in an ice-filled highball.
Float Galliano on top.
Garnish with orange wedges.