The ingredients in a Harvard cocktail are reminiscent of a Manhattan. Indeed, they are almost identical, with a couple of variations for distinction. A Harvard doesn’t have the trademark maraschino cherry garnish of a Manhattan. Rather, a thin twist of lemon peel is perched on its rim. Although the Harvard generally uses brandy or cognac instead of the traditional whiskey, feel free to use bourbon if you don’t have either of these.

First concocted in 1895, its amusing title evokes a scene of a typical weekend in college— girls and boys letting their hair down and making merry with music, tango, and plenty of cocktails to go around.

Sweet yet sharp and tangy, the Harvard makes for a perfect aperitif before dinner. The following recipe takes about five minutes to mix up, and serves one.


  • Brandy, Cognac, or Bourbon Whiskey – 45 ml
  • Sweet red Italian vermouth – 30 ml
  • Lemon juice – 1 ½ teaspoons
  • Angostura bitters – few drops
  • Seltzer – 30 ml
  • Grenadine – 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • FOR GARNISH: Lemon peel

The Process

Fill a mixing glass halfway through with ice.

Pour the brandy, cognac or bourbon, vermouth, lemon juice, and a couple drops of Angostura bitters into the glass.

You may choose to add grenadine too.

Stir briskly until nicely chilled.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Top with 30ml seltzer or fizzy water (only if you haven’t used grenadine).

Garnish with a twist of lemon peel, and serve.

Also read About: Whisky Brands.