Today celebrates the Harvey Wallbanger, an alcoholic drink made with vodka, Galliano liqueur, and orange juice, that was quite popular in the 1970’s . Legend has it that the drink was invented by mixologist Donato “Duke” Antone at his establishment—the Blackwatch Bar—on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, in 1952. Apparently he named it after a Manhattan Beach surfer named Harvey, or Tom Harvey, who frequented his bar. The story goes that Harvey ordered several of the drinks, enough to make him bang into the wall upon his exit. This story seems far fetched though, as evidence has shown that Antone was in Connecticut during the time the drink was supposedly invented, and there is not a record of the Blackwatch Bar’s existence. Another similar story claims that the drink supposedly was created at a bar called Pancho’s Bar in Manhattan Beach.
The drink did not gain in popularity until the 1970’s, when George Bednar of McKesson Imports Company promoted it, as a way to sell Galliano, which his company handled. In late 1969, Bednar had an artist, Bill Young, create a Harvey Wallbanger cartoon figure that was featured on posters and other forms of advertising. It is possible that Bednar used the story of Antone inventing the drink as a way to market it as well. Soon Galliano became the number one imported liqueur in the United States. Harvey Wallbangers were served by TWA on flights, and also by Amtrak. The drink has since permeated American culture. The 1982 American League pennant-winning Milwaukee Brewers gained the nickname as “Harvey’s Wallbangers” after Harvey Kuenn took over as manager mid-season, and the team started hitting better—and banging more walls with their hits. In CB lingo a “Harvey Wallbanger” is a drunk driver who is drifting across the road from shoulder to shoulder. Harvey Wallbangers have also been referenced in various TV shows and films.
National Harvey Wallbanger Day is observed next on Friday, November 8th, 2019. It has always been observed annually on November 8th.