cocktail hour: harvey wallbanger

Harvey Wallbanger

In the ’70s, disco music ruled the airwaves and, on television, Charlie’s Angels solved crimes without messing up their perfectly feathered bangs. Leisure suits, platform shoes, and bell bottoms were in fashion. Fondue, salad molds, and pigs-in-a-blanket were staples at parties. Cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise, Rusty Nail, and Piña Colada were all rage in the ’70s, but none were as popular as the ubiquitous Harvey Wallbanger, known as the decade’s signature drink. A Harvey Wallbanger is essentially a Screwdriver (orange juice and vodka) with a float of Galliano®, an Italian herbal liqueur made with 30 different spices.

Then, just as disco, white three-piece suits, and fondue fell out of favor during the past couple of decades, so did the Harvey Wallbanger. It faded into obscurity and was relegated to the menus of nostalgic kitschy bars, where it stayed until television shows like Mad Men resurrected interest in the ’60s and ’70s. What was once old become new again! Now retro fashion, cuisine, and cocktails are making a comeback.

So why not give the Harvey Wallbanger a second chance, especially since there is an abundance of beautiful oranges right now. Fresh-squeezed juice from clementines, tangerines, blood oranges, or your favorite orange paired with a good vodka make a nice base for this cocktail, and the Galliano® provides the complex flavor, with hints of vanilla, anise, juniper, and cinnamon. It truly is a nice, refreshing seasonal drink.

Harvey Wallbanger recipe and photo

This recipe calls for the vodka and orange juice to be shaken in a cocktail shaker. As a general rule, cocktails containing fruit juices, cream, liqueurs, egg, and simple syrup should be shaken to fully incorporate the alcohol and the mixers. Also, shaking introduces air bubbles which gives a frothy or cloudy, effervescent look that clears up within a few minutes after straining. On the other hand, cocktails that are clear or use distilled spirits are stirred to more delicately combine the drinks without clouding up their appearance with tiny air bubbles or little chards of ice that become loose while shaking.

Legend has it this drink was named for a Manhattan Beach, CA surfer named Harvey who drank a few of them after losing a surf competition and hit his head against a wall on his way out. In honor of Harvey, I used the blue sea horse swizzle stick.

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22 thoughts on “cocktail hour: harvey wallbanger

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  6. During my first year of college in the dormitory, this drink was all the rage, along with tequila sunrises. I didn’t drink back then, but NOW I DO !!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks

  7. I need this cocktail in my life. I’m ready for summer…dreaming of a tropical vacation with this delicious beverage in my hand alllll day long!

  8. My high school best friend’s mother made an fabulous Harvey Wallbanger cake. I still have the recipe squirreled away. Guess it’s time to dust it off! And heard the same story of how the drink got it’s name growing up in So Cal.


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