The Kitchen Sink: Harvey Wallbanger Day


The Harvey Wallbanger cocktail and cake were icons of the 1970s. / Photos from Galiano and King Arthur Flour which offers a from-scratch version.

Today is National Harvey Wallbanger Day which, of course, makes me think about the Bundt pan.

A Harvey Wallbanger Bundt cake was the first fancy dessert I learned to bake, so I have a certain emotional attachment. This was the 1970s — the era of Bundt cakes and bad cocktails (think grasshoppers, pink squirrels). Putting the two together made sense.


Harvey Wallbanger won the most write-in votes in the 1972 presidential election. / Photo from Etsy which has the button for sale.

A Harvey Wallbanger is essentially a screwdriver (orange juice and vodka) with Galliano (a chartreuse Italian liqueur), garnished with a slice of orange. It was wildly popular in the ’70s. There were “elect Harvey Wallbanger” buttons for the 1972 presidential election and “he” allegedly got the most write-in votes.

The legend is that the drink was named after a California surfer named Harvey who was a regular at the Blackwatch Bar in Hollywood. He either had too many screwdrivers spiked with Galliano and banged his head on his way out of the bar, or he banged his head against the wall because he lost a surfing contest. It’s more likely the invention of a clever Galliano ad man.

The Bundt pan also was in its heyday in the 1970s. Home cooks had found a simple way to bake a beautiful, sculpted cake. For a while, most dinner parties featured a Bundt cake made with prepared cake and pudding mixes.  The Harvey Wallbanger cake used yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, oil, orange juice, vodka and Galliano liqueur. (The margarita cake involved margarita mix, orange liqueur and tequila.)

One weekend when I was in high school and my parents were out of town, I had a dinner party and served a Harvey Wallbanger cake for dessert. (I know. You’re stuck on the part where a high school student has a sit-down dinner rather than a wild party. Simpler times.) It was delicious. The first and last time I ever made it.

I’m glad to be reminded of that time, and want to wish Harvey Wallbanger a happy day. Surf’s up.


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3 Responses to The Kitchen Sink: Harvey Wallbanger Day

  1. Kerry November 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks for the great memory of a delicious cake. When I visited my aunt in Los Angeles in the ’70’s, she would always have a perfect freshly made Harvey Wallbanger cake on the kitchen counter to welcome me. Over the years, the vodka and the Galliano got left out, but the love was always there.

    • Profile photo of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf November 17, 2013 at 6:20 am #

      What a lovely memory. Thank you

  2. expert Olivia May 3, 2016 at 2:38 am #

    Am ready..