It is always very interesting to visit cocktail bars or read one of the cocktail books like “Joy of Mixology” and to be initially surprised by the sheer amount of diverse cocktail recipes. When you start diving into the world of cocktails one expects a rather limited number of cocktails. At the beginning it appears as if there are only a few hard liquors like gin, vodka, bourbon or tequila and some additives like bitters or syrups and those can only be combined in a limited fashion. But it doesn’t take long to realize that for example one gin doesn’t taste the same as another gin and that there are numerous bitters and syrups with different flavor profiles. Similar to the market driven cuisine of restaurants more and more mixologists also create market driven cocktails with house-made bitters and other additives which opens up a large world of unique ingredients for all kinds of cocktails. And so instead of a rather limited number of possible cocktails the vast amount of different ingredients appear more like a huge matrix of possible combinations and a near infinite number of cocktails.
Despite a large number of possible combinations and the “everything goes with everything” attitude there are still some liqueurs which seem to exist for just one specific cocktail. Galliano is a liqueur originally created in 1896 in Livorno, Italy and named after an Italian army officer who became famous during the first Italo-Ethiopian war. Galliano has a quite large number of ingredients ranging from star anise, vanilla to ginger, juniper, lavender and citrus. Neutral grain spirit is first infused with these herbs and then vanilla before finally mixed with water and sugar. This yields a liqueur which has a strong sweet anise flavor with some more subtle vanilla and herbal notes. Even though there is more than just one Galliano containing cocktail known everybody associates this liqueur with the Harvey Wallbanger.
As with every famous cocktail name there are many different stories about the origin of the name. Starting from the legend that mixologist Donato Antone created this drink at his Blackwatch Bar to cheer up a surfer called Harvey after a lost competition and after a few of the drinks the surfer collided with the wall. Another variation claims that the drink was invented on a party by Bill Doner and that a guest later banged his head against the wall and blamed it on the drink. Perhaps the most boring but at the same time most likely one is that the name is the idea of the Galliano marketing team when challenged to come up with the cocktail which showcases the liqueur. This simple cocktail indeed nicely emphasizes the herbal character of the Galliano as the vodka and the orange juice stay more in the background. The Harvey Wallbanger is a good cocktail to slowly sip in the evening after a long day as it is refreshing but at the same time has some complexity by the Galliano.
Add orange juice to tall glass, half-filled with ice cubes
Float Galliano on top by carefully pouring it over the back of a spoon. Decorate glass with orange wedge
Recipe adapted from “500 Cocktails”
60 ml (2 fl oz) Vodka
120 ml (4 fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
15 ml (0.5 fl oz) Galliano