Art History Happy Hour - The Hockney Wallbanger

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Aptly titled “The Hangover” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

As I sit here typing, sticking to my leather couch and sweating through my shirt, one thing has become abundantly clear: summer is here. The rising heat, humidity, and hemlines have me daydreaming of lounging near a cool pool, sippin’ gin and juice while my summer-chill playlist creeps through the molasses-thick air. Unfortunately, I live in the real world and not in a 90’s music video.


A Bigger Splash by David Hockney on view at the Tate Britain

I’ve tempered the temptation of living the #poollife by combining my poolside fantasy with staring longingly at queer English artist David Hockney’s quintessentially California-summer painting A Bigger Splash. To celebrate this refreshing work of art, along with Hockney’s birthday on July 9th, I bring you a Cali style cocktail fit for Hockney’s swimming hole: The Hockney Wallbanger.


Image via The Drink Kings


1 ¼ oz Gin

¼ oz Galliano

3 oz Orange Juice

¼ oz Fresh lime juice

Orange or lime to garnish

In a tall glass stir together gin, juices, and ice. Float Galliano on top then stir. Garnish with orange or lime.


To understand why this drink is so perfect for our birthday boy, one must first understand what makes the drink it mimics, the Harvey Wallbanger, so very SoCal. The tale behind this California classic begins when a surfer walks into a bar. This surfer, Harvey, like totally kept missing out on those sweet swells, brah, and needed a drink to comfort himself. He proceeded to guzzle screwdrivers topped with Galliano until he got so plastered he began to replaster the walls of the bar with his face. If there is a more SoCal story of cocktail origin I have not heard it.


California Copied From 1965 Painting in 1987 by David Hockney @ LACMA

Similarly, Hockney’s A Bigger Splash coud not be more California. We have a pool, an adobe painted house, palm trees, and a director’s chair. To capture the indulgence of the LA lifestyle, Hockney did a whole series of pool paintings, often featuring naked dudes (see above). These indulgences could include things like surfing and drinking all day and perhaps it was dear Harvey who just cannonballed? We’ll never know, but I can tell you that the only difference in Harvey and Hockney’s Golden State beverage is our use of Gin rather than Vodka as a nod to Hockney’s English roots.


Hockney doesn’t just make paintings of California pools, he paints them too! Here he is painting a mural for the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.


Image via Architizer

Drink enough of these boozed up bangers and you’ll soon forget about the summer heat, but you may find yourself walking into a wall. Or if you’re lucky, jumping into a pool.


By Sarah Oesterling

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Sarah Oesterling


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