Saturday Pairing: Valley of the Dolls and the Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail

Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls

Sorry I missed yesterday; I had a bad case of the “cocktail flu” and was offline, watching a delightful classic movie: Valley of the Dolls from 1967.

Neely is Needy

Neely is Needy

It is unthinkable to me that Patty Duke did not win the Oscar for her portrayal of Neely O’Hara or, as our generation calls her, LiLo. Yes, it was over-the-top, but have you met people like that? They are over-the-top. She was fucking stone-cold brilliant in that role.

Sharon Tate as Jennifer

Sharon Tate as Jennifer

Sharon Tate was transcendently beautiful, perpetually slightly confused-looking, and perfectly cast as Jennifer, the doomed showgirl-cum-housewife with no particular talent outside generating pity and taking off her clothes. At least she had no illusions either.

Barbara Parkins on left

Barbara Parkins on left

Barbara Parkins was beautiful, classic, a brunette of the Royal Doulton type with china-white skin, enormous panda eyes, and hair that was too well-brought-up to misbehave. I’ve always wanted to be one of those women, and I never will be. She also had a truly exquisite voice, which is a damn good thing because the movie requires a lot of voice over. She’s seriously giving off a Kate Middleton vibe (or vice versa).

“I know why you like it” Parkins said at a Valley of the Dolls revival. “Because it’s so bad!”

It’s not bad. It’s trashy. But it’s a really, really good examination of the trashy story arc: from plucky youngster to drug-addled has-been. When Neely O’Hara protests at being replaced with a younger star – “I’m only twenty-six!” Lindsay Lohan’s life flashed before my eyes. And I went to download The Canyons.

And now to the question of the drink pairing.

While Champagne might be an obvious choice, as they toast Neely’s nascent stardom with it, it’s the drinks that Neely washes the dolls down with that is the true best pairing here.

Neely drinking

Neely drinking

Well, I’ve looked and looked and it looks to me like Neely washes down the pills with Cutty Sark, which was au courant in the 60’s but isn’t, frankly, that great a Scotch, whatever our grandparents used to think of it. So go ahead and drink it if you want, but if I had to pick a cocktail that embodied the spirit of this movie, it would be a Harvey Wallbanger.

It’s a girl drink on the palate: sweet and heavy, and it has a frivolous floater of Galliano, and who the fuck keeps Galliano around except someone with too much money and a lot of boredom to kill, eh? And that’s Neely to a T. And this is a cocktail that will have you on your ass in no time flat, also what Neely would look for in a cocktail. It got its name from the sound you would make going down the hallway after a few.

From Epicurious:

1 1/2 ounces vodka
4 ounces orange juice
1/2 ounce Galliano
1 orange slice for garnish

In a highball glass almost filled with ice cubes, combine the vodka and orange juice. Stir well. Float the Galliano on top and garnish with orange slice.

Cheers. And now to our movie, in full, thanks to YouTube:


8 thoughts on “Saturday Pairing: Valley of the Dolls and the Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail

  1. I read the book when it first came out but didn’t see the movie for ages afterwards. I don’t have any vodka and wallbangers aren’t mt preference. But when I have the time to watch the video this evening I’ll pour a glass of Merlot and toast your post.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I was a teen when I first read the book. I read Peyton Place first and I recall the drugs and sex and deception theme in the Valley of the Dolls being a racy and shocking theme, especially for a kid who was quickly becoming a feminist.

        I was too tired to watch the video again last night and compare it to my recollection of the book. When I do have the time to view I won’t find that surprising if the movie isn’t as satisfying to watch as the book was to read. Why? I cannot recall a single situation of a movie outranking a book on my satisfaction scale, but that’s probably because I have such an active imagination. We shall see if that’s the case this time.


  2. Love this blog! I read the book when I was a teenager and thought I was very risqué, haven’t seen the film. It’s now on my must watch list, thank you. No galliano in the house so will have bourbon on the rocks, because i can.


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