The hanky panky is another old fashioned cocktail created by Ada Coleman back when she was the head bartender at The American Bar at the Savoy in London. Considered one of the best mixologists in the world, she invented this cocktail for Sir Charles Hawtrey. Her quote below is from an interview in The People newspaper back in 1925!
The late Charles Hawtrey … was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was overworking, he used to come into the bar and say, “Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.” It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!” And Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.-Ada Coleman c.1925
This is actually a really simple cocktail to make with just 3 ingredients. Two are extremely popular: gin and sweet vermouth. The difficult bit is the Fernet Branca. Fernet is an Italian digestif that is herbal and bitter. If you gave a sip to a teenager who was thinking about drinking, they may swear off the stuff for good. However, to a mature palate it is one of the best bartender secrets when developing new cocktails.
After moving away from China, I decided to give away my bartending kit, so now I just make do with what I have. That means stirring in a pitcher with a whisk, and straining with the filter from my Moka pot. Ok, I do have a strainer, but it was dirty and I didn’t feel like cleaning it for this Hanky Panky Cocktail.
I don’t know who said it, but I remember the quote, “If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid.” Anyways, the traditional hanky panky is is served in a martini or a nick and nora glass, but I decided to serve it in some white wine glasses like a spritz. After all, I’m not running a speakeasy here.
The drink is also finished with a squeeze and garnish of orange peel. I used blood orange because that’s what I had on hand after my blood orange cointreau souffle. To be honest I don’t think it made a difference as the orange essence is so faint anyways. Looks pretty for the pop of color on the rim however.
Hanky Panky Cocktail
- Stirring spoon
- 50 ml Gin
- 50 ml Sweet Vermouth like Martini Bianco
- 10 ml Fernet Branca the original recipe calls for 2 dashes, but I really like the bitterness of Fernet so I increased it.
- 1 Orange Peel
- Mix all ingredients in a vessel and stir. Strain contents into a coupe/nick and nora/any glass and squeeze over and orange peel. Place peel on edge of glass as a garnish.
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