Master of Cocktails – The Hanky Panky

Master of Cocktails Hanky Panky cocktail

Who doesn’t like a bit of Hanky Panky? This week we made a classic gin-based cocktail, and if you’re yet to try this particular one, then you’re in for a treat!

The history of The Hanky Panky is fascinating, having first been knocked up by the Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman, head bartender at the Savoy back in the early 1900s. When renowned actor Charles Hawtrey requested something with a kick, she tinkered away, creating, but not naming, this very cocktail. When the opportunity next arose to serve it to her famous guest, it was he who exclaimed “that’s the real hanky panky!”, and he was dead right!


Master of Cocktails Hanky Panky ingredients

You’ll be needing these…

List of Ingredients

First things first, as you’ll be more than familiar with by now, sling a coupette glass in the freezer.

Master of Cocktails coupette freezer

Now, a little (but important) aside – take a glass and put a little slug of Fernet Branca into it.

Master of Cocktails Fernet Branca

For the benefit of the drink as a whole you need to understand a bit about what Fernet is, so on the count of three drink the Fernet please. 1-2-3… Go on, swish it around! What do you get? “Evil-tasting stuff”, “Mmmm luscious mint”, and (worryingly) “San-Francisco dive bar” were some of your descriptions on twitter. Did you pull @InWithBacchus’s Fernet face?

Okay – so to build the drink, we’re going to take a stirring glass and half-fill with ice.

Master of Cocktails mixing glass with ice

Add 40ml of gin. We’re using the excellent St. George Spirits Dry Rye.

Master of Cocktails pouring St George's Spirits Dry Rye Gin

This is extraordinarily punchy, with a real white-dog character that works incredibly well with this drink. In it goes. Even from here you can smell the quality and richness of the spirit.

Master of Cocktails Sacred Spiced English Vermouth

Next up, 40ml of the superb Sacred Spiced English Vermouth created by Ian Hart. Still my favourite.

Master of Cocktails measuring Fernet Branca

Now it’s time for the Fernet. What do you think I’m going to say about the quantity given what we’ve learned? The original recipe calls for ‘2 dashes’. Translating this to about 4ml. Or ‘this much’.

This stuff is basically bitters so DON’T, whatever you do, be tempted to dial it up until you’ve tried the finished drink.

Give it a quick stir. 10 seconds or so as it’s been sat for a minute or two.

Time to fetch that pre-chilled coupette…

Master of Cocktails frozen coupette

…and strain the cocktail into it.

Finally, peel off a strip of orange peel…

Master of Cocktails peel orange

…express over the glass and drop it in.

There we have it. The Hanky Panky. Sweet, dry, and with a hint o’ mint.

Master of Cocktails Hanky Panky cocktail


For next week’s #MasterofCocktails, we’ll be pimping a classic whisky cocktail with some new (new-old) ingredients.

Master of Cocktails next week

Next week, you’ll be needing these…

Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Cherry Brandy – 2013, Inchmurrin – Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company), an Orange and Worship Street Whistling Shop Acid Phosphate.


Categories : Cocktails, Gin

2 comments on “Master of Cocktails – The Hanky Panky”

  1. Mark Turner says:

    Ha Ha….Anything with Fernet Branca is undrinkable. In Chicago some Cocktail bartenders got together and decided to spoof their trend following clients by creating a nasty cocktail, making it ‘popular’ and watching them shudder as they tried to drink it while looking smooth an sophisticated. Lol
    That was Fireball Whiskey and Fernetbranca…called a Furball…

    Better read a good book like ‘Cooking with Fernet Branca’ by James Hamilton-Paterson… a very funny book
    I believe there is a sequel now too!

  2. Is it not a case of anything with [anything more than a teaspoon of] Fernet Branca is undrinkable? Not sure.

    The most recent spate of Batm’n movies featured Alfred sitting in a bar in Venice with a glass of the stuff. Not right. Just not right.

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