Hanky Panky

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Cocktail History

The Hanky Panky is a classic cocktail that was created in the early 1900s by the legendary female bartender Ada Coleman at The Savoy Hotel in London, England. The recipe is made using a simple mixture of common Prohibition-era ingredient—gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. Cocktail legend also says its name came to be after Coleman made the drink for a customer who after one sip exclaimed, “By Jove! This is the real hanky panky.”

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Gin: This is a spirit made with juniper berries, botanicals, and alcohol. This recipe specifically calls for Hendrick’s Gin, but we used Prairie Organic Spirits Gin because it has a classic juniper flavor with notes of citrus and spices. For a mocktail version of this drink, try MONDAY Zero Alcohol Gin in place of the gin.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine made with grapes, sugar, botanicals, herbs, sugar, and alcohol. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s a high quality vermouth with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Rosso in place of the sweet vermouth.

Fernet-Branca: This is an amaro made in Italy with gentian, aloe, herbs, spices, sugar, and alcohol. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Harmony Alpine Digestif in place of the amaro.

Orange Twist: This is the peel of an orange that has been twisted into a corkscrew shape.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Mixing Glass: This is used to hold the ingredients while they’re being stirred. We used the Viski 17 oz Cocktail Mixing Glass.

Bar Spoon: This is used to stir ingredients. We used the Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Bar Spoon.

Julep Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is stirred. We used the A Bar Above Julep Strainer.

Peeler: This is used to remove the garnish peel from the citrus. We used the OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set.

Tasting Notes

The Hanky Panky starts off with distinct vermouth and citrus aromas, has the initial taste of slightly grassy fortified wine, and goes out with a swallow that tastes strongly of gin and a hint of the Fernet-Branca’s bitter menthol notes.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: This is one bold drink. We certainly enjoy its ingredients separately, but somewhat surprisingly, neither of us really fell in love with them as a flavor combination. We thought the it harkened back to a time when drinks were much harsher because they had to be given the availability of ingredients and palates of that age. We tend to prefer more modern ratios these days, but the Hanky Panky is certainly worth a try if you’re into the classics!

Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐
“I honestly wasn’t all that crazy about this cocktail even though I love all of its ingredients. When put together, they make for a palatable sipper that certainly has plenty of herbaceousness and juniper flavor with hints of bitter Fernet-Branca, but for me, they just didn’t quick click as something I would want to drink again. If you like a Martinez or other dark, spirituous cocktails, then please make the Hanky Panky at least once, but be warned: it’s a boozy one.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐
“I can tell this is a vintage recipe because, wow, is it strong and incredibly booze-forward in flavor. The only drink of this vein I can stomach at the time of writing this is a Gibson, and even those I prefer dirty. The Hanky Panky is definitely more complex than I expected for using only three ingredients, so I have to give it points for that. But ultimately, this one was not for me. I probably need a few more decades of experience drinking stronger cocktails before I’ll really enjoy it.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Steve The Bartender’s Cocktail Guide by Steve Roennfeldt.

Sale
Steve the Bartender's Cocktail Guide: Tools - Techniques - Recipes
Steve the Bartender’s Cocktail Guide: Tools – Techniques – Recipes
Hardcover Book; Roennfeldt, Steven (Author); English (Publication Language); 304 Pages – 11/15/2022 (Publication Date) – DK (Publisher)
$16.49 Amazon Prime

AuthorSteve The Bartender's Cocktail Guide

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 2 oz Gin
 1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
 ¼ oz Fernet-Branca
 1 Orange Twist

Method
1

Add gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet-Branca, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with orange twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Gin
 1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
 ¼ oz Fernet-Branca
 1 Orange Twist

Directions

Method
1

Add gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet-Branca, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with orange twist.

Hanky Panky

Make It a Mocktail: Use MONDAY Zero Alcohol Gin in place of the gin, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Rosso in place of the sweet vermouth, and Harmony Alpine Digestif in place of the amaro to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Shop Glassware & Tools

Find collections of cocktail glassware and bartending tools we recommend for your home bar in our Amazon shop.

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OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set - Swivel and Julienne
OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set – Swivel and Julienne
Sharp, durable, Japanese stainless steel blades won’t rust; Straight Peeler all-purpose design for effortless prep
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More Classic Cocktails

If you like this cocktail recipe, here are a few other classics we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Boo Radley Cocktail Recipe

Boo Radley: A bourbon cocktail made with Cynar, cherry liqueur, a lemon peel, and an orange peel

Blood & Sand Cocktail Recipe

Blood & Sand: A Scotch cocktail made with cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, orange juice, and a cherry

Brooklyn Cocktail Recipe

Brooklyn: A rye cocktail made with dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Amer Picon

Brain Duster Cocktail Recipe

Brain Duster: A rye cocktail made with absinthe, sweet vermouth, Angostura aromatic bitters, and a lemon twist

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