21st Century Harvey Wallbanger

MxMo LXIII: Mr. Wallbanger, I presume?

(originally published November 21, 2011)

It's MxMo Monday! and there has been a flurry of interest in retro cocktails of the tawdry sort!  Not the classics like the Martinez or the Sazerac, or even the Ramos Gin Fizz, but those tacky cocktails you remember your parents drinking too many of at pool parties, or the kind Annette Funicello would have imbibed in in a less wholesome version of  Beach Blanket Bingo!

Jacob Grier over at Liquidity Preference has also been giving this some serious thought, and is hosting this month's MxMo Monday, Retro Redemption.  In Jacob's words:

Contemporary cocktail enthusiasts take pride in resurrecting forgotten cocktails of the past — unless “the past” refers to the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s. We sometimes refer to these decades as the Dark Ages of Mixology, eras not yet recovered from the violence Prohibition and a World War inflicted on American cocktail culture. The classic Martini, a flavorful blend of gin and vermouth, had morphed into a glass of cold, diluted vodka. Other drinks were just too sweet, too fruity, too big, too silly.

But still, it wasn’t all bad. People ordered these drinks for a reason. Despite the now annual “burial” of a disfavored drink at Tales of the Cocktail, not all of them deserve to die. Perhaps, as they said of the Six Million Dollar Man, we can rebuild them. We have the technology. So the theme of this month’s Mixology Monday is Retro Redemption! Your task is to revive a drink from mixology’s lost decades. Perhaps you feel one of these drinks has a bad rap; tell us why it deserves another shot. Or maybe the original concoction just needs a little help from contemporary ingredients and techniques to make it in the big leagues. If so, tell us how to update it.

So we've been set to thinking about that classic from the 1970's the Harvey Wallbanger!  There must have been something redeeming about it (besides a name that elicits giggles), given the rather ambitious ad campaign rolled out by Galiano liqueur in the 1970's.  Then again, perhaps classic cheese remains just as cheesy today as it was in the 1970s!  Nonetheless, the Harvey Wallbanger became the cool cocktail of the decade, and fit the bill, in that it was similar enough to a Screwdriver (and therefore familiar to the waning palates of suburban America); used vodka, and didn't really taste like alcohol (therein allowing one to get everyone at the party tipsy before the real fun began!); AND it was a built drink, and therefore dead-easy to crank out large numbers.

We've set about to reinvent the Harvey Wallbanger here, with the idea that perhaps it is a drink misplaced in time!  After all, who doesn't love a nice pairing of citrus and vanilla!  With a titillating name, it almost begs to be a tiki-style drink, packing a bit more of a whallop than a standard highball. 

We've opted to keep the Galiano as the jumping off point (after all, it IS the signature ingredient here), but to reinforce the vanilla notes in all the other ingredients — swapping out vodka for the smoky vanilla notes of Anejo tequila, and pairing it with the softer citrus notes of pink grapefruit juice rather than orange.  As we went, we also felt it needed a little bit of a edge, so we amped things up a bit with some Aperol, a bit of vanilla syrup, and topped everything off with the smoky vanilla notes of Crema de Mezcal … Try it out!  We promise, you'll be steady on your feet 😉

Mr. Wallbanger, I presume?

(Created by Janice Mansfield, 2011)

  • 45 ml, tequila anejo
  • 15 ml Galiano liqueur
  • 15 ml Aperol
  • 10 ml vanilla syrup
  • 60 ml pink grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2-3 dashes grapefruit bitters
  • 15 ml Crema de Mezcal

Combine tequiala through grapefruit bitters in a cocktail shaker.  Shake with ice, strain into a highball or tiki glass filled with crushed ice.  Float 1/2 oz. Crema de Mezcal on top.  Garnish with a pink grapefruit wedge.  Serve with a straw.

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