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ScrewdriverThe earliest appearance of this iconic cocktail was in a magazine entitled Journalism Quarterly, where it was called a “Famous Smirnoff Screwdriver”.  Six years later in Newsweek Magazine the story behind the name of the drink was published.  “A Screwdriver —a half-orange-juice and half-vodka drink popularized by interned American aviators—costs a dollar including the customary barman’s tip.”  Still later in the autumn of 1949, Time Magazine had this to say: “In the dimly lighted bar of the sleek Park Hotel, Turkish intelligence agents mingle with American engineers and Balkan refugees, drinking the latest Yankee concoction of vodka and orange juice, called a ‘screwdriver'”.

There are as many variations on the simple vodka/orange juice mixture as there are styles of screwdrivers in a hardware store.  Here are just a few of the clever names you can find in recipe guides:

Sonic Screwdriver, Double Screw, Sloe Screw, Comfortable Screw, Slow Comfortable Screw, Slow Comfortable Screw Up Against The Wall, Left Handed Screwdriver, Rusty Screw, Cordless Screwdriver and perhaps the most famous, the Harvey Wallbanger.

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6a00d83451bdba69e2015437daae76970c-450wiAnyone who is a serious student knows about the Volstead Act which ushered in the era of prohibition.  Not many know about the Cullen-Harrison Act which was signed by FDR on March 22, 1933.  It allowed for the sale of 3.2% beer and wine.  It then took until December 5, 1993 for the states to ratify the Act.  It was at this time that national prohibition was officially repealed.  But, get this: it took another 33 years until all 50 states repealed their own laws.  Mississippi was the last to go.

But some forms of prohibition still remain in what are known as “dry counties”.  See the map below.

Map showing dry (red), wet (blue), and mixed (yellow) counties in the United States.

Map showing dry (red), wet (blue), and mixed (yellow) counties in the United States.

For those of you unfortunate enough to live in one of these dry areas, I offer a non-alcoholic toast.  For the rest of my lucky readers, I suggest you remember our past by cracking open a craft beer and watching the short film below.

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The words “happy” and “hour” have appeared together for centuries when describing pleasant times. In act I, scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s King Henry V (said to have been written in about 1599), for example, King Henry says, “Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour That may give furtherance to our expedition . . . .” The use of the phrase, “Happy Hour,” to refer to a scheduled period of entertainment, however, is of much more recent vintage.

One possible origin of the term “Happy Hour,” in the sense of a scheduled period of entertainment, is from the United States Navy. In early 1913, a group of “home makers” called the “Happy Hour Social” organized “semi-weekly smokers” on board USS Arkansas. The name “Happy Hour Club,” “Happy Hour Social Club,” and similar variants, had been in use as the names of social clubs, primarily by women’s social clubs, since at least the early 1880’s. By June 1913, the crew of Arkansas had started referring to their regularly scheduled smokers as “Happy Hours.” The “Happy Hours” included a variety of entertainment, including boxing and wrestling matches, music, dancing and movies. By the end of World War I, the practice of holding “Happy Hours” had spread throughout the entire Navy.

The Random House Dictionary of American Slang dates “Happy hour,” as a term for afternoon drinks in a bar, to a Saturday Evening Post article on military life in 1959. That article detailed the lives of government contractors and military personnel who worked at missile-tracking facilities in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. “Except for those who spend too much during ‘happy hour’ at the bar – and there are few of these – the money mounts up fast.” Barry Popick’s online etymology dictionary, The Big Apple, lists several pre-1959 citations to “Happy Hour” in print, mostly from places near Naval bases in California, from as early 1951. – wikipedia

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tumblr_inline_moeit2yoeL1qz4rgpProbably most of us have had at least a few Harvey Wallbangers over the years.  My first was served out of a huge plastic trash can at a frat party in Geneva, NY back in the early 1980’s.  My most recent was at 2014’s Tales of the Cocktail® in New Orleans where it was served at one of the many parties.  But, few of us know the true story behind this variation on a Screwdriver.  Fellow writer Robert Simonson penned the following article a few years ago and uncovered the fascinating man behind the myth.  So, make 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 names in cocktail history. And one of the worst reputations.

A mix of vodka, orange juice and Galliano, it was one of the preeminent drinks of the 1970s, a decade recognized by drink historians as the Death Valley of cocktail eras—a time of sloppy, foolish drinks made with sour mix and other risible shortcuts to flavor, and christened with foolish monikers like Mudslide and Freddie Fudpucker.

Not that Harvey Wallbanger is one 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 survived long enough to be reappraised. Shortly after Galliano reconfigured its recipe a couple of years ago, returning the Italian liqueur to its original formula, mixologists began to sneak the drink back on respectable 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 goes, ran Duke’s “Blackwatch” Bar on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in the 1950s. 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 managed 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 repeated 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 “the recipient of two silver stars, two bronze stars, 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 clouded by the claims and counterclaims of various barmen. Even Jerry Thomas, the father 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, straightforward base spirit (vodka, whiskey), throw in a taste-profile-dominating liqueur (Galliano, Drambuie, Amaretto, Kahlua), maybe some juice or cream, and presto: new drink! But few figures in bartending history can lay their hand to so many famous drinks, so one doubts Donato invented all of them. So this article will concentrate on clearing away as much fog as possible from the most frequent cited of his children.

According to folklore, Donato invented the Harvey Wallbanger in 1952. It is said he named it after a Manhattan Beach surfer and regular named Tom Harvey—a man about whom we can find nothing. But the cocktail didn’t become popular until the early 1970s. This sudden reversal of fortunes coincides with the arrival of George Bednar, who in 1966 became marketing director of McKesson Imports Co., an importing company that handled Galliano. Previously, the liqueur had a staid ad campaign that featured the line “Fond of things Italiano? Try a sip of Galliano.” Bednar somehow found the Wallbanger and hoisted it up the barroom flagpole. The original ads pushed the drink as a replacement at brunch for the Bloody Mary. Round about late 1969, a rather pained-looking, sandal-wearing mascot named Harvey Wallbanger appeared. His line: “Harvey Wallbanger is the name and I can be made!”

And, boy, did the world make him! Soon, reports were cropping up of bowls of Wallbangers being consumed at Hamptons parties and on Amtrak trains. Harvey Wallbanger cakes were sold. A Puli named after the drink won dog shows. By 1976, Holland House was putting out a Wallbanger dry mix and pre-blended bottles of the cocktail were sold. Riding this wave, Galliano became the number one most imported liqueur during Me Decade, exporting 500,000 cases a year to the U.S. (You’d think the Galliano people—the liqueur is now owned by Lucas Bols—would be interested in the origins of their most famous drink. But the company, while curious, had little or no information to offer about the Wallbanger or Donato.)

Antone, however, is difficult to find during this heyday. He’s not quoted or mentioned in articles or advertisements. The California ABC office can find no listing for a bar called Duke’s “Blackwatch” Bar on Sunset. (To be fair, their computer records are not complete.) Neither do L.A. guides 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 Harvey was the invention 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 first, the Blackwatch or the Bednar?

I dug up a number of answers in the back pages of the Hartford Courant, which printed a few stories on Antone over the years. It even ran a photo or two, provided pictorial evidence that a short, balding man with thick, black-framed glasses named 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, ran liquor for bootleggers as a youngster, had his first legal bartending job at a place called Diamond Jim Brady’s, and was he was “a likable, 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 1950s and ’60s. It’s because the man was living in Hartford that entire time. The 1966 Courant piece says he founded his school in 1949 “after he 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 beach bums.

The 1966 story identifies Antone as the author of some new drinks—including the Italian Fascination, which “has won prizes” 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 taught his trade to his 12-year-old son!), Antone gets full credit for the Wallbanger. Of course, by that time, the drink was gaining fame and popularity. So what happened between those two date lines?

This sentence in a 1977 Courant piece, in which Antone is “retired,” might hold the key: “Antone…has not limited himself to mixing drinks. Rather, he has been active in all aspects of the liquor industry ranging from restaurant design to marketing.”

“Marketing”! OK, theory time. Could it be that George Bednar, newly 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 cocktails featuring the liqueur? (Around this time, Antone also invented Freddie Fudpucker, basically a Harvey Wallbanger with tequila.) The tale of the Blackwatch Bar, phantom surfer Tom Harvey, and the sudden appearance 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 played football for Notre Dame and the St. Louis Cardinals in the mid-’60s. Booze and sports. They were made 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 cartoon figure hit the U.S. like a lava flow in late 1969, “pop art posters, bumper stickers, buttons, crew shirts, mugs and the whole bit,” according to an Oct. 30, 1969, San Antonio Light article uncovered by Wondrich.

“I wonder what the execs at McKesson thought in 1969,” mused Wondrich, “when Bill Young showed them the dopey little cartoon surfer he had come up with, complete with a dopey name, ‘Harvey Wallbanger,’ and an equally dopey slogan, ‘I can be made.’ I doubt they realized what they were in for. With Young’s Harvey to blaze the way, Antone’s simple—even dopey—drink would go on to be the first drink created by a consultant to actually take the nation by storm.”

By 1981, Duke had opened a new academy, 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 account, sticking in the word “claims” a couple of times, seemed disinclined to believe him.

Do I believe him? Well, I never had much faith in the story of the Harvey Wallbanger’s creation. (A surfer at Manhattan beach going all the way to Sunset Boulevard for a drink? A Italian-American who gives his bar a Scottish name?) But I do believe Antone had something to do with creating the cocktail. To paraphrase the cartoon Harvey, “cocktail history is the game, and I can be made up.”

Robert Simonson writes about spirits, cocktails and wine for such publications as The New York Times, Imbibe, Edible Brooklyn and Manhattan, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and GQ. He holds an advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and another 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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liqueurs2There are more liqueurs out there than you may realize.  A few of them are crucial for classic cocktails (triple sec), many are liquid desserts (Irish creams), and a few are totally unique (coca leaf liqueur).  What exactly is a liqueur, you ask?  Basically take a distilled spirit, add some sugar, and voila.  But that’s only part of the picture.  Often, liqueurs are flavored with fruit, citrus rind, berries, herbs, spices, and particularly in the case of Chartreuse the liqueur takes on the color of the ingredients.

Here are some of the many liqueurs that GSN has reviewed over the past several years.  Everything from ancho chili liqueur to bacon liqueur.  As an added bonus, I’ve included a video by the inestimable Robert “DrinkBoy” Hess which will show you how you can use as many liqueurs as possible in a single classic cocktail .

1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur

300 Joules Cream Liqueurs

Agwa Coca Herbal Liqueur

Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur

Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

Berentzen Liqueurs

Berentzen Bushel & Barrel

The Bitter Truth Liqueurs

The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram

Bols Foam

Caffe Borghetti

Charbay Nostalgie Black Walnut Liqueur

Cointreau

Cointreau Noir

Crave Liqueurs

Crave Chocolate Truffle Liqueur

Domaine de Canton

Galliano L’Autentico

Galliano Ristretto

Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur

Heering Coffee Liqueur

Hiram Walker Caramel Apple Liqueur

Hiram Walker Triple Sec

House Spirits Coffee Liqueur

Jaan Liqueur

Kahlua Coffee Cream

The King’s Ginger

Kringle Cream

Licor 43

Love Potion #9

Lovoka Caramel Liqueur

Mama Walker’s Liqueurs

Mandarine Napoleon

Mandarine XO Grande Reserve

Marie Brizard Chocolat Royal

Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur

Original Canton Delicate Ginger Liqueur

Patron XO Cafe Dark

Pierre Ferrand Ancienne Methode Dry Curaçao

Punzoné Lemoncino

Pür Likör Liqueurs

Root

Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

Sorel Hibiscus Liqueur

St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Liqueur

Xanté

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Anne Marie Paolucci in 2003, provides cancer patients with kits of products to help manage chemotherapy’s side effects.

New York, New York: Chemo Comfort, an all volunteer run organization founded by two-time breast cancer survivor Ms. Paolucci’s mission comes from personal experience: “Starting chemotherapy is a frightening experience. We are saying to patients ‘Here is a box of tools put together by someone who’s been there. Know that you are not alone and
these tools will help you take care of yourself during this difficult journey.’ ” In July 2014, Ms. Paolucci was a NY New Yorker of the Week.

Chemo Comfort is holding their fifth annual Cocktails for Comfort fundraising campaign October 13–22, 2017. Sixteen establishments across New York City and Westchester will be participating by creating signature cocktails for their
patrons with proceeds donated to Chemo Comfort to support their programs.

Throughout the Cocktails for Comfort event period, Chemo Comfort will host a Selfie Bar Crawl contest. Take a selfie at participating venues holding the “Cocktail for Comfort” and something to identify the bar, and then post the photo on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #C4CSelfie2017 & #Cocktails4Comfort. The winner, chosen at random, will win a 100 Amazon gift card. Detailed contest information and Bar Crawl maps can be found on Chemo Comfort’s website.

From Participants: Alexis, Art Bar’s manager, has had personal experience with the organization: “The Chemo Comfort
kit provided me with essential and very useful items and information while I was undergoing chemotherapy. The kit was
thoughtfully put together and provided much-needed comfort during a difficult and scary time. I am thrilled that Art Bar
is able support this wonderful cause ”

Steve Mazzuca, GM and the Bathtub Gin family state: “We are privileged to fight side by side with you. As a team we are
too positive, too optimistic, and too determined to ever be defeated. Together we fight through the bad days to earn
the best days ”

Added third time participant Stand Up NY’s Brittany DiMarco: “We are happy to continue participating in this great
program. We believe with comfort, whether that be through Chemo Comfort or laughter at our comedy club, that
individuals and their families are able to live each day a little better”.

About Chemo Comfort – Chemo Comfort is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life
of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The organization distributes kits filled with products to help manage
nausea, mouth sores and hair loss, among other side effects of chemotherapy. There are also “feel good” items such as a
sleep cap, warm socks, meditation CD, book, journal and helpful hints from the founder about combatting side effects of
chemo. Approximately 75% of kits distributed annually are donated, primarily to patients in need within the greater
New York area, through partner organizations such as CancerCare and the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative at
the Actors’ und. Chemo Comfort is a seven time grantee of Susan G. Komen® Greater NYC, and has received
foundation support from the Kite Key and Landegger foundations. In feedback forms, 100% of kit recipients state they
would recommend a Chemo Comfort kit to someone undergoing chemotherapy.

Many venues have a virgin version of the event cocktail. Participants are donating 20% 50% of cocktail price, depending on venue. Participants subject to change, so please check the website for up to date locations and bar crawl information chemocomfort.org

Participating Bars

Manhattan:
Art Bar 52 Eighth Ave; 212 727 0244; artbar.com
Bathtub Gin 132 9th Ave; 646 559 1671; bathubginnyc.com
Cowgirl 519 Hudson St (@10th St); 212 633 1133; cowgirlnyc.com
Cowgirl SeaHorse 259 Front St; 212 608 7873; cowgirlseahorse.com
Employees Only 510 Hudson St; 212 242 3021; employeesonlynyc.com
Feinstein’s/54 Below 254 W 54th St, Cellar, NYC; 646 476 3551; 54Below.com/feinsteins
The Rum House 228 W 47th St; 646 490 6924; therumhousenyc.com
Stand Up NY 236 W 78th St; 212 595 0850; (25% off tickets online with promo code “comfort”) standupny.com
Tio Pepe; 168 W 4th St; 212 242 6480; tiopepenyc.com
Up&Down; 244 W 14th St; 212 242 4411; uadnyc.com
Ward lll; 111 Reade St; 212 240 9194; ward3.com

Brooklyn:
Huckleberry Bar 588 Grand St, Brooklyn NY; 718 218 8555; huckleberrybar.com
King Tai 1095 Bergen St, Brooklyn NY; 718 513 1025; kingtaibar.com
L P ‘n Harmony; 683 Grand St, Brooklyn NY

Queens:
The Astor Room 35 11 35th Ave, Astoria, NY; 718 255 1947; astorroom.com

Westchester:
Vintage 1891 Kitchen, 2098 Boston Post Road, Larchmont NY; 914 834 9463; vintage1891kitchen.com

 

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PONCE, Puerto Rico — In the aftermath of Hurricane María and its devastating path through Puerto Rico, Destilería Serrallés, Inc., producer of Don Q, Puerto Rico’s #1 family of premium rums, concentrated its initial efforts on ensuring the whereabouts and safety of its employees.  Immediately thereafter, the distillery quickly shifted its focus towards restoring its operations and assisting Puerto Rico with much-needed aid.

“As in other parts of the Island, the southern region, where the Distillery is based, is still offline in terms of the telecommunications infrastructure, making the company’s recovery efforts very challenging. A total lack of electric power and communications are the greatest obstacles that we are currently facing, along with the personal challenges and difficulties our employees are dealing with”, said Philippe Brechot, President and CEO of Serrallés.

On September 24th, the company launched a fundraising program throughout the United States, including Miami, New York, Houston and over a dozen other cities. Each participating bar is crafting a special drink menu with Don Q Rum where net proceeds will be matched by Serrallés and all proceeds donated to relief efforts.  The company is working with the nonprofit ConPRmetidos, in partnership with Foundation for Puerto Rico to raise funds for those affected by Hurricane María. At present more than 40 fundraisers are currently under way with additional events being scheduled every week.

Serrallés is also actively collaborating in helping facilitate temporary work on the mainland for local bartenders who have been out of work for several weeks as a result of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María.  The bartending and hospitality community’s response has been immediate and overwhelming, very supportive and eager to help in any possible way.  At present, 21 bartenders have signed up to receive the company’s support and more than 80 bars in the mainland have offered help via temporary employment or housing local bartenders during this emergency.

The company’s stateside employees in Miami, Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas have also been very active in organizing collection centers for Puerto Rico Rises to collect a wide variety of basic necessities to help families on the Island. Other grassroots efforts are underway.

About Destilería Serrallés, Inc.: Destilería Serrallés is based in Ponce, Puerto Rico where it produces its flagship product, the award-winning Don Q rum, the #1 selling rum on the Island.  Please visit us at: www.donq.com and follow us on http://www.facebook.com/DonQ and @donqrum.

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