Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky cocktail with an orange twist garnish

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Hanky Panky was created in the early 1920s by Ada Coleman head bartender of the American Bar at the Savoy, London. It is her most famous creation. In an interview she said that she created it for the actor Charles Hawtrey who one evening asked for something with a bit of a punch in it. On tasting it he exclaimed that this is the real hanky-panky. At the time this would be understood to mean black magic.

There are recipies that specify ¼ oz of Fernet Branca but most require two dashes. Two dashes are hardly noticable but ¼ oz is too much—it gives the drink a medicinal taste that reminds me of medicine we were given as children. The recipe in The Savoy Cocktail Book from the 1930s gives two dashes but the glasses were much smaller in those days. Compensating for the smaller glass size we get about four dashes which is just right. The bitterness of the Fernet Branca is clearly present but it is not overpowering.

Waiters in white jackets still serve cocktails at the American Bar at the Savoy, many of them reasonably priced. It is well worth a visit to appreciate the history and the air of classic 1930s elegance.