MxMo Retro Redemption: Harvey Weissbanger

weissbanger2

This month’s Mixology Monday theme, as chosen by me, is Retro Redemption. The challenge: To resurrect a cocktail from the Dark Ages of mixology that fell between Prohibition and the contemporary cocktail renaissance, defending it on its merits or giving it new life with the addition of better techniques and ingredients.

This is a fitting theme for me to choose, because part of my job as a brand ambassador for Lucas Bols is promoting Galliano, an Italian liqueur flavored with anise, vanilla, and other herbs. Galliano was absolutely huge in the 1970s, showing up in a variety of cocktails served “against the wall” and by far most prominently in the Harvey Wallbanger. My parents, who don’t drink much but do keep a well stocked bar for guests, include a bottle of Galliano in their collection. They estimate they acquired it around 1978. I am pleased though not surprised that Galliano has shown up in several of the MxMo entries that have been sent in so far.

In the year-and-a-half that I’ve been working for Bols I’ve thought off and on about how to update the Harvey Wallbanger, which is made with vodka, orange juice, and Galliano. There’s a good flavor pairing there. Vanilla and orange go very well together. Look at the Creamsicle cocktail or the success of the Orange Julius chain. This combination works. The ingredient that doesn’t bring anything except alcohol to the drink is vodka. It’s just there in the background, not doing anything aside from getting people drunk. So to modernize the Harvey Wallbanger, the obvious thing to do is replace the vodka with something else.

So OK, what else pairs well with orange? If you read this blog you know that I love beer cocktails, and people have been putting oranges in wheat beers for years. Sometimes they do this in the brewing stage, as with Belgian witbier that’s flavored with coriander and orange peel. Sometimes a wedge of orange is simply added to the rim of the glass, as with some less complex American wheats. Either way, this is another flavor pairing that works.

Putting these pairing ideas together, you can omit the vodka and replace it with beer. Then you get the Harvey Weissbanger:

1 oz Galliano
2 oz orange juice
6 oz quality wheat beer

Build in an ice-filled collins glass, stir gently, and garnish with a strip of orange peel.

You can make this with just about any wheat beer, but the more flavorful ones work best. At my beer cocktail seminar with Ryan Conklin last month we served it with the Upright Four made here in Portland. For something more widely available, the classic Weihenstephaner is also fantastic. Give it a try. I think it’s a refreshing beer cocktail for sipping on the patio or knocking back at brunch.

[Photo by John Valls.]

Fernet and ginger sorbet (a.k.a. Awesome Sorbet)

fernet_sorbet

This is a refined version of a recipe we made at Carlyle back in 2009 for a night of drinks featuring Fernet Branca. That version was delicious but it didn’t freeze well as I’d have liked. A few months ago I acquired an ice cream maker, so I’ve been enjoying lots of fernet sorbet this summer tweaking the recipe to reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol, both of which impede freezing.

The texture on this one still isn’t perfect for a stylized restaurant presentation, but it’s much more stable. Perhaps it would be perfect with a better ice cream maker or a fernet with a lower proof than the ubiquitous Fernet Branca that I’ve been using. The important thing is that it tastes fantastic. “Awesome Sorbet” was the label I found on the container at Carlyle when we made the first batch, and it still lives up to the name.

The inspiration for this is the fernet and ginger ale pairing beloved by so many West Coast bartenders. Neither ingredient dominates the sorbet, but they add spice and flavor.

30 oz orange juice
4 oz lemon juice
4 oz fernet
1 1/2 oz ginger juice*
6 oz superfine sugar

Whisk ingredients in a bowl, spin in an ice cream maker, and put in freezer until frozen.

* I don’t actually juice ginger for this. I just blend chopped ginger with a little water and push it through a strainer.