The Hanky Panky – Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Hanky Panky


What do you get when you combine gin, Italian vermouth and Fernet Branca? As the British actor Sir Charles Hawtrey remarked after he drained his first glass “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!” The name stuck. And luckily for those who imbibe, so did the drink.

This remarkable mix was devised by Ada Coleman. Known as “Coley,” she was head barman at The American Bar of London’s Savoy Hotel for the first quarter of the twentieth century. “American Bar”, by the way, signified an establishment that served American style cocktails along with wine and ale.

This drink is equal parts gin and Italian vermouth plus Fernet Branca, the herbaceous menthol big daddy of amari. Mind you, I am talking about a mere 2 dashes of Fernet, but even that amount is enough for the Fernet to sing. And sing it does in the loveliest harmony with gin and sweet vermouth.

Go on, order one. After all, isn’t Valentine’s Day the perfect time for a little Hanky Panky?


Apres Hanky Panky

The Hanky Panky


serves 1

1 1/2 oz. Hendrick’s gin
1 1/2 oz. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
2 dashes Fernet Branca
twist of orange peel

Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice. Add liquors, stir thirty seconds, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist orange peel over glass to add orange oil to drink, and garnish with a fresh twist.

For more with Fernet Branca click here!


Note: You can click on any picture for a slide show!

I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

16 Comments

  1. Comment by Lizzy (Good Things):

    Adri, this is absolutely gorgeous! No other words!

  2. Comment by Frank @Memorie di Angelina:

    This sounds superb. I love the taste of all three ingredients and I can imagine how well they go together… Looking forward to tomorrow evening!

    Wait, hold the presses… I got curious and just went down to the bar and fixed myself one. Very nice. Different from what I was expected, which was something similar to a Negroni. This has a character all its own, and a very nice one at that…

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Frank!

      Oh, how I love a curious mind and palate. If ever one needed an object lesson in just how much of its character a Negroni owes to Campari, the Hanky Panky must be it. I found this cocktail remarkably smooth, and easy to drink. Drinkers need not be put off by the Fernet. It does seem to intimidate many, but it does the most subtle blending job here. I am glad you liked it, and really so pleased to hear you tried this. Cheers!

  3. Comment by sippitysup:

    Another odd coincidence. I loved the story of Coley and decided to put this cocktail in mu New Savory Cocktails book. But I decided this about 2 weeks ago! Eerie. GREG

  4. Comment by Trevor Sis. Boom.:

    I’ll be making this by the end of the day today. I don’t have the same vermouth on hand but I do have the Fernet and will enjoy trying out several, many, lots, of variations. Thanks! And wow does this look so beautiful!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Benvenuto Trevor!

      No thanks are necessary. The pleasure is entirely mine. I adore this cocktail, and I hope you do too. Traditionally it is made with a dry gin, such as Tanqueray, but I thought the floral notes of the Hendrick’s married beautifully with the Cocchi vermouth and Fernet. I’d love to hear what you think of this one – and the rundown on your variations too. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

  5. Comment by Patty:

    Ciao Adri,
    non sono propriamente un tipo da cocktail, ma il colore di questo drink mi spingerebbe a provare. La seconda foto è assolutamente bellissima. Un bacione, Pat

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Pat,

      Spero che provarlo. Il sapore e delicato e molto liscio, una piacere di bere. Grazie per le parole gentilissime. Mio marito, Bart ed io lavoriamo insieme – “a family project!”

  6. Comment by Ciao Chow Linda:

    Oh Adri – You make me want to engage in some hanky panky even if I don’t like Fernet Branca. Your staging and those photos are sinfully enticing.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Linda,

      I couldn’t resist this one, for obvious reasons. But seriously, the Fernet is present in such small amounts, that its extremely assertive nature does not have a chance to give the imbiber a jolt. Instead it blends with the gin (I used Hendrick’s, although something less floral and more dry like Tanqueray is more traditional) and Cocchi Vermouth underpinning this drink with a hefty, almost sweetish sort of base. You simply will not want to put this one down. And, as always, I will pass the kudos on to Bart.

  7. Comment by Ely:

    Che bellissima idea, grazie cara! Deve essere piacevolissimo! <3 Un felice San Valentino a te.. di cuore! :)

  8. Comment by Paola:

    Great Cocktail Adri! Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Paola

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