Beverages, Recipes

Hanky Panky Cocktail Recipe (+ Its History)

The Hanky Panky cocktail is more than just a whimsical name. It’s a timeless classic that’s delighted cocktail enthusiasts for nearly a century. 

This seductive elixir perfectly blends gin and sweet vermouth. And it’s elevated by a hint of Fernet-Branca’s herbal complexity. 

Glass of Hanky Panky Cocktail with Orange Peel

It’s surprisingly simple to make. It only takes a few ingredients, and you can have it ready in minutes.

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The most challenging part of the Hanky Panky is making the orange twist garnish!

What Is a Hanky Panky Cocktail? 

Ada Coleman created the Hanky Panky at London’s Savoy Hotel in the early 20th century. And it’s more than earned its place in mixology history. 

It’s a sweet gin cocktail with gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. The bitterness of the Fernet-Branca plays interestingly with the vermouth’s sweetness. 

The dry gin rounds out the other ingredients for a complex but delicious cocktail. It’s sweet, bitter, dry, and herbal all at once. 

It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a palate cleanser or a good after-dinner drink. You’ll love how crisp and surprisingly refreshing it is. 

Boozy Hanky Panky Cocktail With Orange Peel Garnish

Ingredients 

You won’t need much for this cocktail, just a few ingredients: 

  • Gin – Go for a quality dry gin. The London dry style works beautifully. Take your pick from the many excellent brands out there.
  • Sweet vermouth – Be sure your sweet vermouth is fresh! If the bottle has been open for over 2 months without refrigeration, it’ll go stale. It’s time to replace it.
  • Fernet-Branca – If you’re unfamiliar with Fernet-Branca, it’s an Italian liqueur with a bitter taste. It’s also the most well-known brand. But feel free to experiment with others. 
  • Ice cubes – Use large ice cubes that won’t quickly melt while stirring. Smaller ice cubes or shaved ice will melt and dilute your drink. 

A traditional Hanky Panky also comes with an orange twist garnish. 

How to Make a Hanky Panky Cocktail 

Making a Hanky Panky is as easy as pie. Follow these simple steps: 

1. Mix. Start by adding ice cubes to a mixing glass. Fill it 2/3 full, then add the gin, vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. 

2. Stir. Stir it for 20 to 30 seconds until the drink is chilled. 

3. Strain. Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass, leaving the ice behind.

4. Garnish and serve. Garnish the Hanky Panky with the traditional orange twist. Then, serve and enjoy! 

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Glass of Hanky Panky Cocktail Garnished With Orange peel

Tips and Tricks

With a recipe this simple, there aren’t many tips to make it easier. But these few tricks will make it even better: 

  • Chill your glass. Chill your coupe or cocktail glass in the freezer for at least 15 minutes beforehand. Or, fill the glass with ice water, stir it for 30 seconds, and dump out the water. Either method will help keep your drink cooler for longer. 
  • Go easy on the Fernet-Branca. Start with a smaller dash. Then, add a little more at a time until you get the flavor balance you want.
  • Share the wealth. As written, the recipe yields a really strong drink. The good news is you can strain it into two glasses and still have a great cocktail. 
  • The sharper, the better. When cutting the peel off the orange, ensure your paring knife is sharp. Orange twists aren’t difficult, but they’re almost impossible with a dull knife. 

Variations

You can try a few variations, too:

  • Add orange juice. Some modern versions add a dash of fresh orange juice to brighten things up. Give it a try with and without to decide which way you prefer.
  • Have fun and experiment. You can try this drink with a different spirit than gin. You can also try different vermouths and other brands of fernet. Changing any one of the three will give you an exciting new flavor. 
  • Make it extra dry. Adjust the recipe slightly to make the Hanky Panky even drier. Use 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of vermouth, and 1/4 ounce of fernet. 
Hanky Panky Cocktail