The Story Behind The Hanky-Panky

Created in the 1920s by Ada Coleman, a former head bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London, the Hanky-Panky is a great representation of the overseas bartending innovation that occurred during America’s Prohibition.

Coleman, once described as the world’s “most famous barmaid,” is one of two women to ever serve as the American Bar’s lead bartender (the second of whom was appointed over a century later in the summer of 2021). According to legend, she created the drink for a tired friend who wanted “something with a punch.” Coleman crafted this walloping cocktail, to which her guest delighted: “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!”

The drink has been called by that name ever since, and it remains a great option for those looking for a bolder, more robust variation on the classic Negroni. It’s made using equal parts gin and vermouth and a couple of dashes of Fernet-Branca in place of Campari. The Hanky-Panky is one of the 50 most popular cocktails in the world. To discover the other 49, check out the full list.


  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Fernet Branca
  • Garnish: orange twist


  1. Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. 
  2. Strain into a coupe glass, express your orange twist, and garnish.

Rate This Recipe:

(27 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 180
Updated: 2024-04-22

The Hanky-Panky Recipe