Like so many cocktails, the Harvey Wallbanger has a cute little story that might be complete bollocks. The tale goes that Donato ‘Duke’ Antone was making cocktails at the Blackwatch Bar in Los Angeles in 1971. At the time, a surfer known as Tom Harvey would frequent the Blackwatch (and other bars), banging his surfboard on the walls as he went. The Harvey Wallbanger was reputably named after him. Another version of events depicts a young surfer, banned from a competition, who, in his woe, had drunk so many of these cocktails that he had to bang his head to make the pain go away.
While it is true that a properly mixed Harvey Wallbanger (not too much orange juice) is absolutely lethal in any quantity, the drink may have been invented by the marketing team at the McKesson Imports Company, who were responsible for importing Galliano into the United States. The brand team commissioned a picture of a surfer with the strapline:
“Harvey Wallbanger is the name and I can be made!”
… which is really naff.
Duke Antone, a WWII veteran who died in 1995, and who was recipient of two silver stars, two bronze stars, two Purple Hearts and a Croix de Guerre, may still have a toehold in the invention of the drink. I suppose it remains possible that McKesson may have stumbled across the drink and promoted it post hoc shift product. Alternatively, McKesson may have approached Antone to commission a drink. With Antone dead, and McKesson in a different format, we will never know. Certainly the Antone version of events places the invention of the Harvey Wallbanger in 1969, but it took until 1971 for the drink to ‘go viral.’ This popularity happens to co-incides with promotion by George Bednar, who was appointed marketing director of McKesson in 1966.
What do you think? A cool story about a drunk surfer, an import company with too many palettes of Italian booze, or a combination of both?
When you make your own Harvey Wallbanger, take care with the OJ. The drink calls for a Collins glass, and as you can see from the picture on this page, I don’t have any of those, so I needed to fill a highball to two thirds. Don’t be tempted to top off with any more orange juice – to do so would give you all Harvey and no Wallbanger.
Harvey WallbangerPrint Recipe
- 60ml Russian Standard vodka
- 90ml fresh (not pasteurised, please) orange juice
- 7ml simple syrup
- 15ml Galliano
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Stir all the ingredients except the Galliano in a mixing glass with ice. Strain the mixing glass into a Collins glass filled with more ice. Float the Galliano on top over the back of a spoon (or mix in with the other ingredients if preferred).
Garnish with an orange slice.