March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so in honor of everybody’s first favorite author we’ll be mixing the Dartmouth HIghball. Let’s face it, when you write and illustrate children’s books that sell more than 600 million copies you’re on to something. Whether or not you were a fan of The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, his work will make you smile. We’re not reading Oh, All the Places You’ll Go, but we are thinking of all the places you’ll drink. Good cause for an honorary birthday drink.
That drink, the Dartmouth Highball wasn’t named in honor of the college. But it is reminiscent of just how Dr. Seuss became Dr. Seuss. That story goes along with two of our evergreen subjects, Prohibition and gin.
Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss
Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1907 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He clearly had a good childhood, as his father managed a family brewery. Perhaps not as impressive as a distillery, but still a noble public service. As evidence that no good deed goes unpunished, that ended with Prohibition and his father started supervising the town’s public park system.
Geisel attended attending Dartmouth in the 1920s, where he joined a fraternity and the school’s humor magazine, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern. He rose to become its editor in chief, but that came to an end. That that may have seemed unfortunate it did the world good.
One evening he and nine friends were caught drinking gin in his room. You wouldn’t ordinarily think much of this, but in the 1920s it was a big deal. It was the time of Prohibition, the time of cocktails like the Scofflaw and the Bee’s Knees.
Dean Craven Laycock required Geisel to resign from all extracurricular activities, including the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, to remain at Dartmouth. Ever the rascal, Geisel didn’t step back but instead contributed under a pen name, Seuss, that just so happened to be his middle name.
He originally planned to get a PhD in English Literature, to become a Dr. Geisel. But his future wife was enamored by his drawings and urged him to pursue that as a career. Geisel got his first national exposure in 1927 when The Saturday Evening Post published a cartoon. He soon took a job at the humor magazine Judge and six months later published his first work under the pen name Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss went on for quite a while. He had a time out to contribute to the World War II effort, but then published dozens of children’s books up until 1990.
The Darmouth Highball
The Drink of the Day for Dr. Seuss is the Dartmouth Highball. Not because the drink is named after his former school – it’s not – but because the name is at least symbolic of where he became Dr. Seuss. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of drinking in his stories, which makes selecting a drink more challenging than with writers whose stories include a lot of drinking, like Ernest Hemingway with the Green Isaac Special, or F. Scott Fitzgerald with the Daisy. To our amazement there is no Cat in the Hat cocktail out there.
For Dr. Seuss, we turn to the creation of his pen name and the fact that it all happened at Dartmouth. Use of the name, however derived, is close enough for us.
The Dartmouth Highball itself was named after the Dartmouth, a ship owned by the East India Company and looted by the Boston Tea Party. The name, in fact, is due to it bearing a certain resemblance to tea.
The Dartmouth Highball comes from Bob McCoy at the Eastern Standard in Boston when he was creating a Pimm’s section for their menu. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, if you’re not familiar with it, is a gin-based herbal liqueur with a flavor reminiscent of citrus and spice. It’s been around since about 1823 and is 25% alcohol by volume. The Pimm’s Cup, a highball made with it, is its classic use. The Dartmouth Highball is not that far away, adding a bit of extra gin and some mint.
- Put about six mint leaves and simple syrup in your trusty shaker.
- Add other ingredients and dry shake - without ice
- Strain into highball glass over ice.
- Top with ginger beer and gently stir.
- Garnish with mint sprig.