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Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky, Gin Cocktail, Ada Coleman
Hanky Panky cocktail detail
Written by Gin Foundry

The Hanky Panky is a sweet Martini with bitter undertones. The cocktail was created by bonafide bartending legend Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman, who got in on the girl power action long before any crop-top wearing pop power combinations did, by becoming the first (and only to date) female head bartender at the Savoy.

This is an elegant drink made for sophisticated drinkers whose classy behavior will falter by the time they hit the dregs; then it’s dancing on the table time.

How we make a Hanky Panky:

50ml Gin

50ml Sweet Vermouth

5ml (or a couple of dashes) Fernet Branca

10ml freshly squeezed orange juice

An abridged, inebriated history:

The Hanky Panky was conceived by Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman, Head Bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar, at the start of the twentieth century. Coley served at The Savoy from 1903 until her retirement in 1926, bowing out with icon status and a famous cocktail to her name. Of the drink, Coley said:

“The late Charles Hawtrey… was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was over working, he used to come into the bar and say, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’ It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ And Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.”

There has long been speculation that Coley mentored Harry Craddock at the Savoy, as their time overlapped for a period of about five years, before Craddock left prohibition-era America for greener pastures. This reasoning starts to look a little less like conjecture when one considers the fact that Craddock printed a recipe for the Hanky Panky in his famous bartending bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book (recipe just below). We’d certainly like to think that these two drinker’s deities were brought together by fate, working off and inspired by one another.

Original Hanky Panky recipe from The Savoy Cocktail Book:

2 dashes Fernet Branca

½ Italian Vermouth

½ Dry Gin

“Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze Orange peel on top.”

(as referenced by – Difford, Simon. Diffordsguide Cocktails, The Bartender’s Bible. 10th Edition, Odd Firm of Sin.)


Hanky Panky, Gin Cocktail, Ada Coleman