Saturday, May 27, 2017

Here's To Good Ole' College

A toast this week to my alma mater and the class of 1992 who are gathering back on campus for our twenty-fifth year reunion.  Haverford College is a special place set in the beatific landscape of the Philadelphia suburbs on a unique arboretum campus.  Founded in 1833 by Quakers who wished to provide education equaled by respect, tolerance, and attention to the whole human experience, Haverford is now a highly regarded non-sectarian co-ed liberal arts college. Amidst the four hundred plus species of trees and shrubs, students embrace academic and artistic achievements under the umbrella of the honor code, which was originally written by students, remains governed by students, and guides the lives of all in the pursuit of mutual respect and trust.  Decisions on campus are made by consensus, not majority, a process which has left an indelible mark on all who are fortunate enough to have participated in it. 

Haverford Harmony

To my classmates who are new to Boxes and Booze, the premise is simple.  A puzzle box is paired with a cocktail and each is described in some detail.  Why is this fascinating and worth your time?  A puzzle box is a metaphor for life itself, and for all of our searches for meaning and solutions.  Each one is unique, and beautiful, and different, each with a story to tell.  Some are simple, some complex, some have never been opened, some are damaged, some stuck.  Some are so familiar and we know just how to move them.  And some we simply marvel at and admire the way they work.  Cocktails, meanwhile, can tell us where we’ve been, and maybe where we are going.  The history of the world is written in spirits, after all, and they are how we mark life’s journeys when we raise our glass.  So here’s to boxes and booze, a celebration of ourselves.

Acorn Box by Hiroshi Iwahara

For the Haverford reunion, I selected a box which symbolizes a few things uniquely Haverfordian.  The acorn box, by Japanese artist Hiroshi Iwahara of the Karakuri Creation Group, is a simple affair, unassuming with a little wooden acorn adorning the top.  Simple in appearance and with only one secret move required to open, it embraces the Quaker philosophy of simplicity.  The Friends, as Quakers are known colloquially, try to uphold the expression “live simply, so others may simply live” in their daily lives.  Their tenets include pacifism, social equality, stewardship of the planet and integrity.  The acorn box is crafted of wood from oak, ginkgo, katsura, enjyu, and pao rosa trees – a few of which have representation on Haverford’s arboretum campus.  Finally the acorn is symbolic of Haverford’s beloved mascot, the black squirrel.  These unusually pigmented animals have the run of the grounds and enjoy an impassioned fan club.

The Bitter Ford

For the booze I teamed up with former suite – mates Jason Goldstein and Michael Haley Goldman to create the unofficial class of 1992 reunion cocktails. The first is a variation on the Negroni, that incredible, classic cocktail of which I am so fond.  It’s just in time for Negroni Week, too (June 5-11).  We present the “Bitter Ford”, a toast to alums not coming to the reunion.  It’s bitter, of course, thanks to the Campari, but tempered by the Luxardo liqueur evoking the sweet memory of campus life and the illusion that the honor code existed in real life. 

Founder's Green

If you’re not feeling it, though, have something much more classic, and head back to 1833 where it all started, on the steps of Founder’s Hall (the only building that existed back then).  Stretch out on the grass and recall a time when you were still impressionable, had dreams, had undyed hair (or hair at all), and maybe hadn’t figured it all out just yet. Of course this drink has to be an Old Fashioned, with a little nuance to make it special.  From Michael: “Remember that feeling of warm sunshine on Founder’s green, when you were supposed to be in Organic Chem (insert most daunting class from your major here)? And then when you get to class (late) and feel like Professor Wintner has smashed your brain with the hammer in his left hand while wiping your memory of all useful information with the wire brush in his right hand? This drink gives you all those feeling in one glass.”  Sip the “Founder’s Green” while you recall those fond days and don’t despair – your kids can go to Haverford and relive it all for you.  Here’s to the class of ’92, may you all be happy, healthy and loved.  Cheers!

Cheers, Friends

The Bitter Ford:

1 oz Ford’s Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Maraschino liqueur

Stir together with ice and strain into a favorite glass (or plastic party cup). Garnish with bitter romantic failures of freshman year.

Founder’s Green

2 oz bourbon
½ oz Green Chartreuse
¼ oz maple syrup

Stir together with ice and strain into a favorite glass over unrelenting dreams of being unprepared for finals.

For more about Haverford College:

For more about Hiroshi Iwahara:

For the Haverford College cocktail:

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