Once upon a time, Galliano liqueur was the butt of many a bartender’s joke: That towering yellow bottle that wouldn’t fit reasonably on any back bar and a potent vanilla-heavy flavor that wouldn’t fit reasonably in a proper cocktail.
But it proved good for one drink in particular: The Harvey Wallbanger.
This notorious drink, introduced in the 1960s, is essentially a Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) with Galliano liqueur floated on top (recipe below). The drink rose to prominence in the late 1960s and 1970s as the drink for girls and swingers looking to get said girls sozzled.
The colorful (but probably fictional, cocktail historians say) tale says that Harvey was a surfer and wharf worker in California, who, after too many bad days on the waves, consoled himself with so many Galliano-spiked screwdrivers that he staggered into the walls.
Fast forward to today and Galliano is being re-launched with a new, more herbaceous recipe, just in time for Harvey Wallbanger Day. As “Galliano L’Autentico,” the product is now described as resembling more closely the original 1896 version, including a blend of 30 herbs like star anise, juniper, lavender and yes, vanilla.
The new version now bears a resemblance to yellow Chartreuse, both in terms of the neon-yellow color and its herby flavor. It’s still syrupy and moderately sweet, but the prominent flavor and aroma is now anise rather than vanilla, which takes more of a supporting player role.
Does it still work in a classic Harvey Wallbanger? Absolutely. But the more restrained version is more versatile than its predecessor and can work in a wider variety of cocktails than before, such as Prohibition-era cocktail The Last Word, which typically uses Chartreuse (see our version below). Though the final drink will be a touch sweeter than the classic version, at least now bartenders won’t be tempted to bang their heads over what to do with that towering bottle on the back bar.
The Original Harvey Wallbanger
1¼ ounces vodka
3 ounces orange juice
¼ ounce Galliano
Orange slice, to garnish
In a tall glass, stir together the vodka, orange juice and ice. Float Galliano on top and stir. Garnish with orange slice.
NOTE: To float Galliano or any other a liquid on top of a drink, hold a spoon over the drink, and gently pour the liquid over the rounded back of the spoon. It should cascade over the rounded spoon and float on top of the drink.
Harvey’s Last Word
¾ ounce gin
¾ ounce Galliano
¾ ounce maraschino liqueur
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
1 lime wheel, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, Galliano, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lime wheel.