Galliano 101: National Harvey Wallbanger Day
Today is National Harvey Wallbanger Day. This is the most famous cocktail that includes the classic Italian liqueur Galliano.
I had a chat with Anthony Pullen who is the Brand Development and Education Manager for Lucas Bols USA. It is his job to increase the awareness of Galliano and share how to use it in bars and homes. I asked him how that is going.
Nick: What are you doing to bring Galliano back into bar repertoire? Is it making a comeback?
Anthony: We want to bring the fun back to cocktails a little and I think that is where Harvey fits in. The product is very much unappreciated and we have been encouraging bartenders and consumers to #dustoff their bottles and rediscover it either in the form of the iconic Harvey Wallbanger or something more creative. We have seen a going trend of returning customers and new buyers for Galliano and it has shown good growth in the past year. I think the trend in Italian liqueurs and retro drinks is helping us out there.
N: Who is really excelling with using Galliano? Either a bartender or a bar? What are they doing?
A: So many good examples of people rediscovering the love for Galliano. In Atlanta I have seen people using it in daiquiris to make an interesting twist, the Harvey Weisbanger (A wheat beer variation of the classic) is popping up on bunch menus all over. I guess the stand out one right now is a bar called Herbs & Rye is pouring it as their house shot for their guests. People are loving it and the bar is going through a staggering amount!
N: Does the Harvey Wallbanger still stand the test of time? If not, is there a modern version?
A: It may surprise people but I consider the traditional Harvey Wallbanger a pretty good drink, anise and orange is a great flavor combination. Unfortunately the drinks popularity coincided with a time that people were happy to take short cuts in drink preparation. Things like gun orange juice from concentrate and nasty cheap maraschino cherries did not help. In fact even the Galliano formulation was changed back in the 80s lowering the proof and using the synthetic vanilla content, the decision was purely financial. You can still see some of the old formulations around, they are the ones with the purple cap and purple logo usually taking up space on the backbar. In 2007 when Bols became independent again and moved back to Amsterdam they switched back to the original recipe from 1896 which has more anise flavor and is over 40% abv. You can identify this bottle with a white cap and has the words “L’Autentico” on it (meaning “the authentic”).
When you use the L’Autentico, fresh orange juice and good quality vodka to make a Harvey Wallbanger the result is surprising good! There are of course a bunch of different variations that are being created also. I came across a variation recently that I loved named the Javier Wallbanger at Bracero in San Diego, which has Tequila and All Spice dram in it (full recipe below). Another good one was the Hippie Wallbanger at the newly opened Whitechapel in San Francisco.
Javier Wallbanger @ Bracero
(credit = Christian Siglin)
• 1 1/2 oz. Tequila Ocho Plata (not available in MI)
• 1/2 oz. Galliano
• 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
• 1/2 oz. Fresh Orange Juice
• 1/2 oz. Vanilla Syrup (2:1 Ratio)
• 1/4 oz. Allspice Dram
N: What do you recommend as someones first intro to the spirit? If they have never had it.
A: Most people have heard of Galliano so I would say don’t have any preconceptions and don’t only think about vanilla. There is 25 different herbs and spices that go into Galliano L’Autentico and it is a blend of four separate distillations so it is a very complex Italian liqueur that is great mixed or (as i prefer) drunk straight.
It certainly has encouraged me to experiment a bit more with Galliano. Curious for some more info. I checked out their website for a bit of a history lesson. Here is what I lifted (100% stolen) from their website.
History of Galliano (from their website): Vaccari named his creation after Giuseppe Galliano “Maggiore Galliano”, an Italian Hero. “ Over Christmas 1895, during the 1887 – 1896 Italian campaign in Abyssinia he spent 44 days holding the Fort of Enda Jesus against an Abyssinian force of some 80,000 troops. He had a force of 2000 hardy soldiers, meaning he was outnumbered by 40 to 1. Some feat. For his efforts he received an immediate promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, a silver medal from the King and the enduring legacy of having his name on what is a quintessential Italian liqueur.
Like all proper heroes he died in battle shortly afterwards and consigned himself to the history books. At the height of Sig. Galliano’s fame the son of a successful wine and spirits merchant was working to create his own legacy in the west Italian town of Livorno. Noticing a gap in the market for honoring fallen heroes, Arturo Vaccari set about making a new liqueur at his own distillery, in 1896. He was intent on creating a liqueur with a flavour all of it’s own and legend has it that his recipe was based on a homemade liqueur that Galliano always carried into battle.
In another stroke of marketing genius, Vaccari decided his liqueur would be golden in color – to reflect the efforts of Italians trekking to America to make their fortunes in the 1890’s gold rushes in California – known to Italians as the Golden State. Galliano peaked in the 1970s when it was America’s biggest selling liqueur, no doubt due to a bumbling surf dude called Harvey, who after a few too many Screwdrivers that he had laced with Galliano, found himself bouncing down the hallway to his room. Hence the craze began for that most famous of Galliano cocktails – The Harvey Wallbanger.
The Harvey Wallbanger is a drink I first had in college and we kept an iconic bottle of Galliano on our bar. Lots of people asked about it and we probably cleared through a case in my time there. It is time for me to #dustoff my bottle and start working with it more. I’ll start today with a cheers to Vaccari and throwback to my times at MSU.