Harvey Wallbanger Is My Name

By Paul Nelson

The Harvey Wallbanger was popularized in the disco era along with other drinks that were sweet, colorful, easy to make, and easy to drink. According to tradition, it originated in the Los Angeles area in the 1950s, named after a surfer with the last name Harvey. You might meet people who poo-poo the drink because of the era it was popularized in or because the flavors are basic and anything but subtle. Lots of people have opinions about drinks. Ignore them. Don’t apologize for what you like to drink or what the people you’re making drinks for like to drink. If it isn’t cool, hip, organic, or whatever, get over it. Sometimes being a rebel and standing out from the crowd simply means continuing to do what others have done for generations.

The main ingredient for this drink is orange juice, which is a remarkably versatile mixer. Most people like it. It pairs well with all sorts of liquors (tequila, rum, vodka, gin, Amaretto—to name a few). You should strive to have fresh orange juice on hand whenever you’re going to be entertaining. Odds are, somebody is going to ask for something that uses it. I routinely offer Harvey Wallbangers when people aren’t sure what they want. People always rave about it. It’s sweet but not too sweet, and it doesn’t taste like alcohol. It also has a bit of an exotic element because many people aren’t familiar with Galliano.

harvey wallbanger

  • One part vodka
  • Two parts orange juice
  • Ice
  • Galliano floater

Shake or mix the orange juice and vodka together well. Pour over or add ice so that the glass is nearly full. Then drizzle a layer of Galliano over the top of the drink—probably about ¼ ounce total. Serve WITHOUT stirring. Adding a little bit of liquor to the top of a drink like this is known as floating the liquor because it is obviously intended to stay on the surface of the drink rather than mixing with the other ingredients. Garnish with a slice of orange if you’re feeling fancy.

Galliano is an Italian liquor with a heavy anise (licorice) flavor. By itself, I think it’s too strong, but paired with the strongly flavored orange juice, it’s a very good combination. Enjoy!

NB­­—I tend to convey recipes in parts rather than number of ounces. I think this is simpler as some people aren’t so good at math. Traditionally, a Harvey Wallbanger is considered six ounces of orange juice, three ounces of vodka, lots of ice, and then the floater of Galliano (¼ ounce).