“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”

– Ernest Hemingway

When in Harvard, have the Harvard

Harvard Cocktail

2 parts           Courvoisier’s VSOP Exclusif

1/3 part        Maraschino Cherry Liqueur

1/3 part        Sweet vermouth

3                      Dashes of Angostura bitters

1                      Orange zest

Method: Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass over cubed ice until condensation covers the glass.  Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass finishing with an orange zest snapped over the drink and dropped into the glass

Garnish: Fresh cherry


The long lost older brother of the famous Manhattan cocktail, this drink first saw print in 1895 in the book, Modern American Drinks by George J Kappeler and originally replaced the above mentioned cherry liqueur with soda water….. something I wouldn’t necessarily advise.

Despite the name this drink (like so many others) has been listed and quoted under many other names before it, the most common was the 1830s classic, Delmonico.  This drink was entitled after a famous “Delmonico” family who made their name (and their drinks) throughout their collection of restaurants in New York.  The major difference between this and the beloved Harvard Cocktail, was their use of both gin and French brandy in the recipe.   It’s wise to bear in mind at this stage, the quality of both of these spirits was very much of chance around this time.  This is no better expressed then in the book aptly named The Flowing Bowl (by Edward Spencer, not William Schmidt) where there was mention of a German chemist who proclaimed that a very potable brandy could be produced by distilling sawdust – to which the author aptly commented,

“What is the use of a prohibitory liquor law if a man is able to make Brandy out of the shingles on his roof or can get delirium tremens by drinking the legs of his kitchen chairs”!

But I digress, the Harvard cocktail compliments any rich VSOP cognac whilst combining the notes from the citrus, vermouth and cherry  together in a reaction commonly expressed by Master Blenders as “le mariage”. The cocktail name clearly brings us back to the old halls of Harvard University where, as is true with today, the expanding and subtracting of ones brain cells can be often a daily battle.

Get articles like these and more:
Subscribe to our mailing list

When in Harvard, have the Harvard

Get a 10% Voucher AND Tasting Cognac eBook when you subscribe to our newsletter. Weekly updates about our stories, new products and deals.


Max is a spirits expert and speaker, into marketing, technology, startups, and business development. He’s also a farmer. He likes tools and machines, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul. Included in his Top 10 Cognacs are the Audry XO and Bache Gabrielsen 1973.Max founded Cognac Expert in 2010 at his family’s estate in Poullignac, in the Cognac region, France. Started as a blog, today Cognac Expert is the world’s largest website about all things Cognac, a blog, and a specialized online shop featuring 800+ different Cognac bottles.

Write A Comment

While many liquor stores close, Cognac Expert continues to ship Cognac worldwide.Stay at home