Invented by Ada Coleman at the American Bar at The Savoy in 1925, the Hanky Panky is a simple, borderline-chuggable cocktail made mostly with gin and sweet vermouth. For a little extra kick, there’s also some Fernet Branca - and that’s really what sets this drink apart. Very few cocktails use this dark-brown amaro, mostly because it has an intense, minty flavor that tends to hog the spotlight in any given drink. But here we’re just going to use a smidgen, which isn’t an actual bartending term.
Makes 1 Hanky Panky
- Coupe, martini glass, or Nick & Nora
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 teaspoon Fernet Branca
Step One: Prep Your Glassware
Before you start making your cocktail, grab a coupe, martini, or Nick & Nora, and put it in the freezer. Why? Because a frosty glass will keep your drink colder longer, and it’ll also make you feel like the sort of person who does smart things.
Step Two: Sweet Vermouth
Hopefully, you keep your sweet vermouth in the fridge after you open it. That’s how it’ll stay fresh - and if you just learned this and are thinking about using some vermouth that’s been sitting on your bar cart for 6 months, we suggest you get a new bottle. Add 1 ounce sweet vermouth to a mixing glass.
Step Three: Gin
Next, find yourself a gin (anything works for this, so just use one you like), and add 2 ounces to your mixing glass.
Step Four: Fernet Branca
If you’re unfamiliar, Fernet Branca is an amaro that sort of tastes like herbal mouthwash. That might sound gross, but if you give it a chance, this bitter minty beverage will grow on you, and you might one day find yourself drinking it after dinner or gargling it before bed. Seeing as how this cocktail only uses a tiny bit (because a little goes a long way), it’s the perfect introduction. Put one teaspoon in your mixing glass.
Step Five: Stir
Add five or six ice cubes to your mixing glass, and stir your Hanky Panky for around 20 seconds. Once you’re finished, get the pre-chilled glass from your freezer, and strain your cocktail into it. Garnish with an orange twist, then give your drink a taste. It should be strong with an undercurrent of jammy sweetness (from the sweet vermouth), and if you previously weren’t a Fernet Branca person, this Hanky Panky should change that.