Friday, April 23, 2010

Harvey Wallbanger Makes Glam Reappearance

There are some famous cocktails of the past that one feels the cocktail elite will never reclaim. Those leaders of the mixed drink renaissance were all over reviving forgotten pre-Prohibition libations like the Aviation, Martinez and whatever sling, flip or daisy you care to mention. Eventually they came around to embracing and respecting the whole line of tiki concoctions that thrived from the 1930s to the 1960s. They'll even give a nod to such simplistic, name-brand classics like the Cuba Libra, Greyhound and Moscow Mule.

But certain drinks are anathema. The Golden Cadillac for instance. The Tequila Sunrise, despite the recent rise of tequila as a mixer. The White Russian, even though it now has possesses a certain coolness due to its connection to "The Big Lebowski." Because of the louch quality of their ingredients, because of the way they mask their base spirit rather than celebrate it, because of their presumed trashiness, because they contain vodka (gasp!)—certain cocktail, most of them invented post-WWII, get the high hat from the cocktail crowd.

The Harvey Wallbanger is another such mixed drink that gets no respect. The drink—which possesses one of the most familiar names in cocktail history—was invented in 1952, the story goes, by Donato "Duke" Antone (who also invented the Rusty Nail and White Russian—king of sloppy drinks, was he) and was brought to international prominence by Galliano salesman, George Bedner. Bednar had reason to publicize the creation. The Harvey Wallbanger is the most famous drink ever invented to contain Galliano.

The Harvey Wallbanger takes vodka as its base, and Galliano and orange juice (another ingredient Cocktailians don't think much of) as its modifiers. Search around New York and you will not find this drink on the menu of any of the swankier watering holes.

Until now.
Yesterday, I stopped by Pulino's, Keith McNally's new haute pizza bistro on the Bowery, and the hot chowhouse of the moment. While I waited for my pizza, I browsed the drink menu. And there, among the "House Cocktails," was the dear old shabby Harvey Wallbanger, right between a Plymouth gin drink and a Strega refreshment. Pulino's is using fresh squeeze orange juice (but, of course) and Crop Organic Vodka, along with the requisite Galliano. I didn't have time to try it, but I will surely do so next time. I asked who had designed the drink program, but no one—the bartenders, the hostess, the maitre d', could name the person, except to say she was a woman.

A brave soul, she.


Unknown said...

To be absolutely fair, one must also consider Galliano's new (errr.. old?) formulation. The old stuff was syrupy and bland and mixing it with OJ from a soda gun and well vodka didn't improve matters much. The L'Autentico stuff is damn tasty- all sortsa bright vanilla, anise, mint and spice. Add some fresh-squeezed OJ, a clean distillate to boost those flavors and you could do a lot worse than a Harvey Wallbanger at a backyard BBQ in Brooklyn this summer. I don't think it'll make it on D&C menu's Classics section but there are far less interesting highballs out there.

Robert Simonson, "Our Man in the Liquor-Soaked Trenches"-New York Times. said...

Absolutely important point, Joaquin. Meant to mention that.

frederic said...

Eastern Standard had the Golden Cadillac on their menu for a while. When we made a comment about it, our bartender told us that it was surprisingly good especially as a dessert cocktail. And when he received an order for one, he made extra and gave us each a taste. It does scream out Stan Jones and 1970's, but damn, it was tasty. Perhaps not all that classy, but I did not regret tasting it in the least.