Probably the majority of members of us have had at least a few Harvey Wallbangers over the years. My first was acted out of a huge plastic trash bin at a frat party in Geneva, NY back in the early 1980′ s. My most recent was at 2014′ s Tales of the Cocktail( r)in New Orleans where it was performed at one of the many gatherings. But, few of us know the true story behind this fluctuation on a Screwdriver. Fellow writer Robert Simonson penned the following article a few years ago and disclosed the fascinating male behind the delusion. So, acquire yourself a H.W. and spend a few minutes with a legend.
Searching for Harvey Wallbanger by Robert Simonson
The Harvey Wallbanger has one of the most memorable refers in concoction biography. And one of the worst reputations.
A mix of vodka, orange liquor and Galliano, “its one” of the preeminent drinks of the 1970 s, a decade recognized by drink historians as the Death valley of cocktail eras–a time of slipshod, foolish cups originated with sour assortment and other risible shortcuts to flavor, and named with senseless monikers like Mudslide and Freddie Fudpucker.
Not that Harvey Wallbanger is something of those. It’s actually got one of the best–and most unforgettable–handles in the annals of mixed drinks. This may be why it’s existed long enough to be reappraised. Shortly after Galliano reconfigured its recipe a few years ago, returning the Italian liqueur to its original formula, mixologists began to sneak the drink back on honorable lists.
This is all good news for Donato ” Duke ” Antone, the largely forgotten bartender who, according to longstanding legend, is the creator of the Wallbanger, as well as a number other two-ingredient wonders of the time, like the Rusty Nail and White Russian. Antone, the oft-repeated story proceeds, led Duke’s “Blackwatch” Bar on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in the 1950 s. The few biographical facts that pop up again and again tell us that he was the brother-in-law of one-term New York State Senator Carlo Lanzillotti, and that he organized featherweight boxer Willie Pep, a childhood friend. He died In 1992 at the age of 75, according to an obit in the Hartford Courant. At the time he was the retired headmaster of the Bartending School of Mixology in Hartford. The Courant notice reiterated the claims that he invented the Wallbanger, Rusty Nail, as well as the Flaming Caesar and many other drinks.
So, did he? As much as we hate to doubt a WWII vet and” funding recipients of two silver-tongued performs, two bronze starrings, two Purple Hearts and a Croix de Guerre”( the Courant ), the bartending profession has a long history of credit-grabbing. The provenance of almost every famous cocktail is massed by the claims and counterclaims of various barmen. Even Jerry Thomas, the leader of modern mixology, wasn’t above a fib or two.
Certainly, all the drinks associated with Donato display the same, ham-fisted modus operandi. Take a potent, easy cornerstone feeling( vodka, whiskey ), throw in the towel a taste-profile-dominating liqueur( Galliano, Drambuie, Amaretto, Kahlua ), maybe some juice or ointment, and presto: new cup! But few fleshes in bartending autobiography can lay their entrust to so many prominent boozings, so one uncertainties Donato fabricated all of them. So this article will concentrate on clearing apart as much fog as possible from the most common quoth of his children.
According to folklore, Donato developed the Harvey Wallbanger in 1952. It is said he identified it after a Manhattan Beach surfer and regular worded Tom Harvey–a man about whom we can find nothing. But the concoction didn’t become popular until the early 1970 s. This abrupt reversal of fortunes coincides with the arrival of George Bednar, who in 1966 became marketing chairman of McKesson Imports Co ., an importing corporation that handled Galliano. Previously, the liqueur had a staid ad blitz that featured the line” Fond of things Italiano? Try a sip of Galliano .” Bednar somehow encountered the Wallbanger and hoisted it up the barroom flagpole. The original ads propagandized the drink as a replacement at brunch for the Bloody Mary. Round about late 1969, a preferably pained-looking, sandal-wearing mascot identified Harvey Wallbanger showed. His line:” Harvey Wallbanger is the word and I can be made !”
And, boy, did the nations of the world become him! Soon, reports were cultivating up of bowls of Wallbangers being ingested at Hamptons parties and on Amtrak qualifies. Harvey Wallbanger cakes were sold. A Puli reputation after the drink acquired puppy evidences. By 1976, Holland House was putting out a Wallbanger dry mix and pre-blended bottles of the cocktail were sold. Riding this tide, Galliano became the number 1 most imported liqueur during Me Decade, exporting 500,000 cases a year to the U.S.( You’d contemplate the Galliano people–the liqueur is now owned by Lucas Bols–would be interested in the lineages of their most famous drink. But the company, while strange, had little or no information to offer about the Wallbanger or Donato .)
Antone, however, is difficult to find during this heyday. He’s not paraphrased or mentioned in articles or advertisements. The California ABC office can find no itemize for a rail announced Duke’s “Blackwatch” Bar on Sunset.( To be fair, their computer records are not complete .) Neither do L.A. leader or newspapers from the time mention it. Given that the drink rose to fame with the arrival of Bednar, one can’t help but suspect that good old-time Harvey was the ability of the Galliano marketing department, and that Antone had nothing to do with it.
The flaw in that theory lies in the Courant obit, which indicates that Antone himself never denied creating the drink. So what came firstly, the Blackwatch or the Bednar?
I dug up a number of answers in the back sheets of the Hartford Courant, which reproduced a few storeys on Antone over its first year. It even ran a photo or two, provided photographic evidence that a short, balding man with thick-witted, black-framed glasses identified Donato ” Duke ” Antone did indeed breathe air. A 1966 Courant article about Antone’s bartending school, located on Farmington Avenue, tells us that he was born in Brooklyn in a Italian-Jewish neighborhood, operated liquor for smugglers as a child, had his firstly law bartending errand at a locate called Diamond Jim Brady’s, and was he was ” a amiable, fast-talking Runyoneseque character .”
Turns out, there’s a good reason you can’t find evidence of Antone and the Blackwatch Bar in Los Angeles during the 1950 s and’ 60 s. It’s because the man was living in Hartford that part go. The 1966 Courant piece says he founded his institution in 1949″ after “hes found”, when working in Las Vegas, that it was difficult to find good bartenders ,” and that it” took him 14 years to perfect the school’s curriculum .” Those would be the years when he was supposed mixing up Harvey Wallbangers for coast bums.
The 1966 story determines Antone as the author of some brand-new drinks–including the Italian Fascination, which” has won loots” and” contains Galliano, Kahlua, triple sec and sweet cream “– but the Wallbanger is not mentioned as one of them. However, in a subsequent 1970 Courant story( about how Antone coached his transaction to his 12 -year-old son !), Antone get full credit for the Wallbanger. Of track, by that time, the drink was gaining preeminence and esteem. So what happened between those two date words?
This sentence in a 1977 Courant piece, in which Antone is ” retired ,” might maintain the key:” Antone…has not limited himself to mingling glass. Rather, he has been active in all aspects of the liquor industry range from restaurant designing to sell .”
“Marketing”! OK, thought term. Could it be that George Bednar, freshly hired at McKesson in 1966 and looking for a way to boost Galliano sales, read about Antone’s Galliano-heavy Italian Fascination cocktail, and then traveled up to Hartford to see if the bartender, for a fee, could come up a few more concoctions boasting the liqueur?( Around this time, Antone also invented Freddie Fudpucker, mostly a Harvey Wallbanger with tequila .) The tale of the Blackwatch Bar, specter surfer Tom Harvey, and the abrupt image of the Wallbanger cartoon figure–that could all well be examples of Bednar and Antone’s marketing acumen. One can see how the two men might have bonded. Antone was a boxing man, and Bednar dallied football for Notre Dame and the St. Louis Cardinals in the mid-‘ 60 s. Booze and athletics. They were drawn for each other.
Noted cocktail historian David Wondrich–who, as it turns out, has been doing his own digging in the Wallbanger–pointed out the Harvey surfer character had been designed by commercial artist name Bill Young, at Galliano and McKesson’s behest. The parody representation hit the U.S. like a lava spring in late 1969,” daddy skill signs, bumper stickers, buttons, crew shirts, cups and the whole bit ,” according to an Oct. 30, 1969, San Antonio Light article uncovered by Wondrich.
” I was just wondering what the execs at McKesson reputed in 1969 ,” mused Wondrich,” when Bill Young proved them the dopey little cartoon surfer he had come up with, complete with a idiotic appoint,’ Harvey Wallbanger ,’ and an equally moronic motto,’ I can be made .’ I mistrust they recognized what they were in for. With Young’s Harvey to fire the road, Antone’s simple–even dopey–drink would go on to be the first sip created by a consultant to actually make the nation by blizzard .”
By 1981, Duke had opened a new establishment, Antone’s School of Mixology, and was full-on boasting that he was the genesis of” the Harvey Wallbanger, the Rusty Nail, the White Russian and the Kamakazi, as well as the Freddie Fudpucker .” The reporter of that report, sticking in the word ” claims ” a couple of times, seemed disinclined to believe him.
Do I repute him? Well, I never had much faith in the story of the Harvey Wallbanger’s start-up.( A surfer at Manhattan sea going all the way to Sunset Boulevard for a suck? A Italian-American who leaves his bar a Scottish mention ?) But I do repute Antone had something to do with creating the concoction. To restate the cartoon Harvey,” cocktail history is the game, and I can be made up .”
Robert Simonson writes about feels, cocktails and wine for such publications as The New York Times, Imbibe, Edible Brooklyn and Manhattan, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and GQ. He harbours an advanced authorization from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and the other from the Beverage Alcohol Resource. He was nominated for 2012 Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Writing. Follow him on Twitter: @RobertOSimonson
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