On this day in 1638, a 30-year old clergyman from Charlestown, Massachusetts named John Harvard died of tuberculosis. Harvard’s will bequeathed his 400-book library and £779 (the equivalent of £1,780,000 or $2,826,284 in modern money) to a new institution of higher learning that was being built in nearby Cambridge, tentatively called “New College.” So, in 1639 the Overseers of the New College voted to honor Harvard’s generous donation and ordered ““that the colledge [sic] agreed upon formerly to bee [sic] built at Cambridg shalbee [sic] called Harvard Colledge [sic].”
Harvard University would graduate its first class in 1642 with nine graduates. Things have changed at Harvard over the last 371 years, and now the school has a student population of over 21-thousand. Harvard University is now one of the world’s most prestigious universities, and its alumni include eight U. S. presidents, 67 Nobel laureates and 62 living billionaires.
Well, that’s all very good then, but let me tell you, those Harvard kids aren’t that smart. How do I know this? Well, when the Harvard cocktail was created in 1895, the best they could do is make a brandy based Manhattan. Sure, it’s a great drink and a favorite libation from my college days, but couldn’t the Crimson men come up with something a bit more original?
- 1 1/2 ounces Brandy
- 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth
- 2 or 3 dashes bitters
Stir with ice in a mixing glass, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top off with a dash of soda water, if you wish to give it some fizz.
Tomorrow: A man who’s been in college since 1927.