How to Make a Hanky Panky Cocktail

Categories: Last Call

HankyPanky.JPG
JK Grence
Here I go again with drinks with weird names. Hanky Panky? It manages to be hopelessly outdated, yet still carries a lurid aura with it. The origin of the drink's name is a bit more innocent. It goes back to the early 20th century, at the American Bar in London's Savoy Hotel.

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Ada "Coley" Coleman was a pioneer in bartending. She was one of the first well-known female bartenders in a profession that was long dominated by men. She later woulx hand the reins of the Savoy's American Bar to Harry Craddock, who would go on to write the Savoy Cocktail Book, still considered essential reading for anyone with a taste for classic cocktails.

While Coley was at the Savoy, an overworked actor by the name of Charles Hawtrey came in to the bar. He asked her to make him something with a bit of punch in it. She took a while experimenting with things, until she hit on something new. The next time he came in, she made him this new drink. When he tried it, he exclaimed in very British fashion, "By Jove, that is the real hanky-panky!" much like how these days someone might have simply said it was awesome or amazing. But "hanky-panky" was the way to say it back then.

The Hanky-Panky starts with an obsolete form of the martini, the sweet martini. It used to be that when you ordered a cocktail including vermouth, that you would request either sweet or dry vermouth. Some time ago (I think we can blame James Bond here), the martini was automatically expected to be made dry. The sweet martini has a deliciously different character. It takes on a life of its own when it turns into the Hanky Panky, with a couple of dashes of Fernet Branca.

Hanky Panky
Yes, that's a lot of vermouth. Don't be afraid of it! And remember, always keep your vermouth in the refrigerator.
1 ½ ounces London dry gin
1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes (scant ¼ ounce) Fernet Branca
Stir everything together with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a strip of orange zest.

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