Hanky Panky Cocktail Drink

Hanky Panky

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

When you want a standout cocktail, turn to the Hanky Panky recipe. With its choice of ingredients, this drink is straightforward to make and always impresses.

Hanky Panky Cocktail Recipe

Check out this easy Hanky Panky recipe! It's a perfect choice with gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

172 kl

Ingredients

  • oz Gin
  • oz sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Fernet-Branca
  • Orange twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon
  • Mixing Glass

Instructions

  • Chill Glass: Stir some ice cubes in your cocktail glass.
  • Mix Ingredients: In the mixing glass combine 2 dashes Fernet-Branca, 1½ oz sweet Vermouth, and 1½ oz Gin.
  • Stir: Fill up the mixing glass with ice cubes and stir the mixture well until chilled.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into your chilled cocktail glass, leaving the ice behind.
  • Garnish: Express an orange twist over the top, then drop it into the glass.

Notes

Substitutes:

Speaking from my own experience:
  • Gin: If I run out of gin, I sometimes use vodka. It offers a neutral profile, but the herbal essence of gin will be missed. For a different twist, you might also try a light rum.
  • Sweet Vermouth: Dry vermouth can replace sweet vermouth if you're in a bind. If you go this route, I'd recommend adding a slight touch of simple syrup to offset the dryness.
  • Fernet-Branca: It's hard to replicate the unique bitter and herbal qualities of Fernet-Branca, but in a pinch, Amaro Averna or Jägermeister might suffice, though they'll bring their distinct flavors.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: For a pitcher that serves 8, you'll need 12 oz of gin, 12 oz of sweet vermouth, and 16 dashes of Fernet-Branca.
  • Mix: Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher, add some ice cubes and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour into individual chilled cocktail glasses, garnish each with an orange twist, and serve up.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Gin Substitute: Some non-alcoholic gin alternatives on the market capture the herbal essence without the alcohol.
  • Fernet-Branca Substitute: Consider a non-alcoholic bitter aperitif or make a simple syrup infused with a mix of herbs and a dash of non-alcoholic bitter.
  • Sweet Vermouth Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic vermouth or a mix of grape juice with a dash of vinegar for tang.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these substitutes and follow the original steps for a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

Even if it will alter the taste a bit, switch Fernet-Branca for Branca-Menta and always check the labels on the other ingredients, especially sweet vermouth, as some might use animal-derived fining agents during production. Opt for brands that specify their vegan-friendly processes.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
172
% Daily Value*
Sodium
 
4
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
6
g
2
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Potassium
 
42
mg
1
%
Protein
 
0.2
g
0
%
Calcium
 
4
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.2
mg
1
%

 

Hanky Panky Cocktail Drink

Hanky Panky Cocktail Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Check out this easy Hanky Panky recipe! It's a perfect choice with gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 172

Ingredients
 

  • oz Gin
  • oz sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Fernet-Branca
  • Orange twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon
  • Mixing Glass

Instructions

  • Chill Glass: Stir some ice cubes in your cocktail glass.
  • Mix Ingredients: In the mixing glass combine 2 dashes Fernet-Branca, 1½ oz sweet Vermouth, and 1½ oz Gin.
  • Stir: Fill up the mixing glass with ice cubes and stir the mixture well until chilled.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into your chilled cocktail glass, leaving the ice behind.
  • Garnish: Express an orange twist over the top, then drop it into the glass.

Notes

Substitutes:

Speaking from my own experience:
  • Gin: If I run out of gin, I sometimes use vodka. It offers a neutral profile, but the herbal essence of gin will be missed. For a different twist, you might also try a light rum.
  • Sweet Vermouth: Dry vermouth can replace sweet vermouth if you're in a bind. If you go this route, I'd recommend adding a slight touch of simple syrup to offset the dryness.
  • Fernet-Branca: It's hard to replicate the unique bitter and herbal qualities of Fernet-Branca, but in a pinch, Amaro Averna or Jägermeister might suffice, though they'll bring their distinct flavors.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: For a pitcher that serves 8, you'll need 12 oz of gin, 12 oz of sweet vermouth, and 16 dashes of Fernet-Branca.
  • Mix: Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher, add some ice cubes and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour into individual chilled cocktail glasses, garnish each with an orange twist, and serve up.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Gin Substitute: Some non-alcoholic gin alternatives on the market capture the herbal essence without the alcohol.
  • Fernet-Branca Substitute: Consider a non-alcoholic bitter aperitif or make a simple syrup infused with a mix of herbs and a dash of non-alcoholic bitter.
  • Sweet Vermouth Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic vermouth or a mix of grape juice with a dash of vinegar for tang.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these substitutes and follow the original steps for a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

Even if it will alter the taste a bit, switch Fernet-Branca for Branca-Menta and always check the labels on the other ingredients, especially sweet vermouth, as some might use animal-derived fining agents during production. Opt for brands that specify their vegan-friendly processes.

What is a Hanky Panky Cocktail?

Hanky Panky is a blend of gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. This IBA-certified drink is known for its unique flavor profile that tantalizes the palate. It gained its playful name, “Hanky Panky,” from a customer’s exclamation of delight after tasting it for the first time. Its elegance lies in its balance of ingredients, proving that a classic cocktail doesn’t require complex mixology. This timeless recipe, celebrated for its straightforward yet refined character, offers a luxurious experience with every sip.

A side shot of a Hanky Panky cocktail in a coupe glass on a maroon cloth placed on a brown wooden table with a jiggar and a plant around, in front of a beige wall.

What is a Hanky Panky Cocktail made of – The ingredients

Gather these components for the preparation of a Hanky Panky Cocktail:

  • Gin: A distilled alcoholic beverage made from juniper berries, it provides the cocktail’s primary base and aromatic profile.
  • Sweet Vermouth: A fortified wine flavored with aromatic herbs adds depth and a touch of sweetness to the drink.
  • Fernet-Branca: A type of amaro (bitter) mixed with herbs and spices; it gives the Hanky Panky its distinct herbal and slightly bitter finish.
  • Orange Twist (optional): A piece of orange peel, often twisted over the cocktail, contributes a fresh citrus aroma and subtle flavor accent.

Fernet-Branca, sweet Vermouth and Gin laid out on a white bar table.

How do you make a Hanky Panky Cocktail?

Follow the detailed instructions in our guide to expertly craft a Hanky Panky:

1
<p>Begin by chilling a cocktail glass to ensure your drink stays cold and refreshing.</p>

Begin by chilling a cocktail glass to ensure your drink stays cold and refreshing.

2
<p>Pour the right amount of Fernet-Branca into the mixing glass.</p>

Pour the right amount of Fernet-Branca into the mixing glass.

3
<p>Add the sweet Vermouth to the mixing glass.</p>

Add the sweet Vermouth to the mixing glass.

4
<p>Add the Gin to the mix.</p>

Add the Gin to the mix.

5
<p>Fill the mixing glass with ice cubes.</p>

Fill the mixing glass with ice cubes.

6
<p> Mix the ingredients well with a bar spoon or stirrer until the mixture is chilled.</p>

Mix the ingredients well with a bar spoon or stirrer until the mixture is chilled.

7
<p>After stirring, remove the ice cubes from your chilled cocktail glass.</p>

After stirring, remove the ice cubes from your chilled cocktail glass.

8
<p>Strain the concoction into your previously chilled cocktail glass, removing any ice.</p>

Strain the concoction into your previously chilled cocktail glass, removing any ice.

9
<p>Squeeze an orange twist over the top of the drink to release its oils.</p>

Squeeze an orange twist over the top of the drink to release its oils.

10
<p> Then drop it into the glass.</p>

Then drop it into the glass.

11
<p>Enjoy your Hanky Panky cocktail!</p>

Enjoy your Hanky Panky cocktail!

Can I make a Hanky Panky Cocktail with Vodka?

Yes, you can. This switch shifts the drink from a botanical canvas to a more neutral profile, letting the vermouth and Fernet-Branca shine in a different light. When opting for vodka, selecting a brand known for its clean, crisp finish is crucial. Brands like Tito’s and Grey Goose often come to mind. Tito’s offers a slightly earthy undertone, while Grey Goose boasts an ultra-smooth experience. I’d nudge you towards Tito’s for those diving into a vodka-based Hanky Panky. Its subtle character complements the herbal notes without overshadowing them, striking a delightful balance in your glass.

Best Vermouth for a Hanky Panky Cocktail

Selecting the right vermouth for your Hanky Panky can elevate the drink from good to outstanding. While the gin and Fernet-Branca play their roles, the sweet vermouth binds the ingredients, balancing the botanicals with their herbal depth. Two standout choices in the world of vermouth are Carpano Antica Formula and Punt e Mes. Carpano Antica Formula offers a rich, vanilla-forward profile with a hint of spice, enhancing the overall depth of the cocktail. On the other hand, Punt e Mes delivers a sharper, more pronounced bitterness, providing an intriguing contrast to the Fernet-Branca. For those crafting their first Hanky Panky, Carpano Antica Formula would be my go-to suggestion. It’s versatile, well-rounded, and meshes seamlessly with the other components. Try it and taste the difference a great vermouth can make.

A Hanky Panky cocktail, shot from above, in a coupe glass on a maroon cloth placed on a brown wooden table with a jigger around.

Variations

Interested in a range of styles? Here’s a selection of our top favored picks:

  • Hanky Panky with Orange Juice: This adds a fresh citrus twist, infusing it with orange juice for a vibrant, zesty edge. The orange juice brings a natural sweetness and tanginess, creating a refreshing contrast to the original flavors. I really enjoy the burst of citrus in this one; it’s like a ray of sunshine, making it an ideal choice for a summer day.
  • Smoky Hanky Panky: This introduces a smoky element, often achieved by using a smoky gin or a splash of a smoky spirit. The smokiness adds a mysterious depth, transforming the classic into a more complex experience. The way the smoky notes intertwine with the herbal undertones fascinates me; it’s like a cozy, intriguing mystery in a glass.
  • Spiced Hanky Panky: This infuses warm spices, such as cinnamon or star anise, adding a comforting and aromatic twist. The spices layer additional warmth and complexity, making it particularly enjoyable on cooler evenings. The addition of spices reminds me of holiday festivities, offering a comforting embrace with each sip.
  • Berry Hanky Panky: This incorporates muddled berries, such as raspberries or blackberries, adding a fruity and slightly tart dimension. The berries introduce a delightful freshness and a beautiful color, making it visually appealing as well. The fruity sweetness from the berries is a highlight for me; it’s like a playful dance of flavors, perfect for a cheerful gathering.

A side shot of a Hanky Panky cocktail in a coupe glass on a maroon cloth placed on a brown wooden table with a jiggar and a plant around, in front of a beige wall.

History and Origin

The Hanky Panky cocktail owes its creation to Ada Coleman , a legendary bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London during the early 20th century. Ada’s reputation as a mixologist drew many famous patrons to the hotel’s American Bar, where she served until 1926. The story goes that Ada crafted the Hanky Panky for Sir Charles Hawtrey, a renowned actor of the time. After taking a sip, Hawtrey exclaimed that the drink was the real “hanky panky,” which means “witchcraft” or “magic” in old English slang. The name stuck, and this gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca concoction quickly became a cocktail classic.

A Hanky Panky cocktail, shot from above, in a coupe glass on a white marmol table surrounded by Fernet-Branca, sweet Vermouth and Gin

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FAQ

How many calories does a standard Hanky Panky have?
Typically it contains around 150-200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients and their quantities.
How strong is the Hanky Panky cocktail?
The strength can vary based on the gin used, but the cocktail's ABV generally ranges from 20-25%. That translates to 40-50 proof.
What type of alcohol is used in the Hanky Panky?
The primary alcohol is gin.
In which glass is the Hanky Panky traditionally served?
It's typically served in a cocktail glass.
What does the Hanky Panky taste like?
The cocktail offers a harmonious blend of botanicals from the gin, sweetness from the vermouth, and a distinctive herbal bitterness from the Fernet-Branca.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Hanky Panky?
The classic version maintains an equal ratio of gin and sweet vermouth, with just a dash or two of Fernet-Branca.
How is the Hanky Panky usually served with ice?
It's typically stirred with ice and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass, serving it "up" without ice.
How has the Hanky Panky evolved over the years?
While the core recipe remains unchanged, bartenders worldwide have introduced variations, playing with ratios or introducing new ingredients.
How has the Hanky Panky evolved over the years?
While the core recipe remains unchanged, bartenders worldwide have introduced variations, playing with ratios or introducing new ingredients.
What's the difference between a Hanky Panky and a Negroni Cocktail?
The drink uses gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca, while a Negroni combines gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.

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