hanky panky - hanky panky recipe

Two words, three ingredients: Hanky Panky. A simple cocktail but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This is the ultimate Hanky Panky recipe.

It all started when actor and theatrical producer Sir Charles Hawtrey needed some magic when he walked into the American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel in the early 1920s, looking for a drink. He asked Ada Coleman, bartender at the bar at this time, “Coley, I’m half dead – what can you do to revive me?”

According to Coleman, Charles Hawtrey was “one of the best cocktail judges I knew,” so Ada gave him something he’d been working on for a while: equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, a gin Manhattan, but instead of the usual dash of bitters, a dash of the Italian medicinal liqueur.

According to Robb Report, as reported in the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, Hawtrey had produced a play only two years earlier called Hanky Panky John, whose title character was “nicknamed Hanky Panky because he had invented a cocktail named.”

It’s not a stretch to imagine that a cocktail lover like Hawley was waiting for a real-life drink to claim this honor. He took a sip of Coleman’s invention. “By God!” he exclaimed, “this is the real handkerchief!” What else could he call it? The name stuck.


Without further ado, here is the best Hanky Panky recipe.

Photo: Thomas Hawk

Hanky Panky Recipe


1.5 oz. gin

1.5 oz. sweet vermouth

0.25 oz. Fernet-Branca

Type of glass: coupe

Garnish: orange twist


Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir for 10 to 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail or martini glass and garnish with an orange peel.


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Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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