The Hanky Panky

The Hanky Panky
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Long before the age of best bars lists and cocktail Instagrammers, Ada Coleman was pioneering the craft, stirring up cocktails in American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel. Over her tenure, she served everyone from Mark Twain, Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin and the Prince of Wales. 

Coleman was promoted to head bartender in 1903—one of two women to ever hold the role. She ruled over the bar for 23 years, where she had her hand in creating some of the industry’s most beloved classic cocktails.

It was behind this bar she invented the Hanky Panky, a gin-based martini riff that adds subs in a hit of amaro for a punch of boozy flavor. Legend has it, Coleman created the cocktail when English stage actor Sir Charles Hawtrey charged her with the task of creating a cocktail with a little punch. When she served him this, he declared, “that’s the real hanky panky.” A century later, every bartender worth his salt will be happy to whip you up one. 

Think of the Hanky Panky as the dive bar riff on a martini—it’s got gin, yes, and vermouth, but a dose of herbal Fernet Branca gives the drink a bitter edge and a rusty hue. 



  • Stir on ice
  • Pour into chilled Coupe Glass
  • Garnish with orange peel
Kate Dingwall
Kate Dingwall
Kate Dingwall is a writer and editor, primarily covering the spirits and travel world. Her work has appeared in, Wine Enthusiast,, MAXIM Magazine, DuJour Magazine, Eater, VinePair, Culture Trip, Canada's 100 Best Restaurants, and a number of other publications, online and print. Outside of writing, she is a sommelier and an avid martini drinker.

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