A hanky panky cocktail calls for gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca, an orange twist, and, after the first sip, a ginormous grin. There’s a reason it’s a classic.
As the name Hanky Panky suggests, this amber aperitif is pure seduction in a glass. It’s similar to a martini but with a sweet edge that will have you swooning.–Angie Zoobkoff
Hanky Panky Cocktail
- Nick and Nora glass (optional)
- 2 ounces gin (preferably Tanqueray No. Ten)
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica Formula)
- 1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
- Orange twist, for garnish
- In a mixing glass, combine the gin, vermouth, and Fernet Branca. Fill the glass with ice and stir until chilled.
- Strain the cocktail into a chilled Nick and Nora glass or two, if you have them, and garnish with the orange twist.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I like Fernet Branca but not all the time. It’s nice as an after-dinner digestive with its bracing medicinal flavor. Using it in a cocktail, though, is not very common and I’ve always wanted to find a cocktail that works with it and can stand up to its strong flavor. The Hanky Panky sure does! It works great especially using Carpano Antica vermouth as the recipe suggests. I’d even go as far as saying it really needs the assertive orange-bitter flavor of Carpano to stand up to the Fernet flavor. I tried this twice to test it out—the first time using Carpano Antica vermouth and the second time regular sweet Martini & Rossi. The cocktail made with Carpano was much better and more balanced. The juniper in the gin worked great with the assertive Fernet and the bittersweet vermouth and that worked great with the orange peel garnish. The one made with Martini and Rossi was fine but definitely not as well balanced with the harsher Fernet flavor dominating and I really missed the orange notes of the Carpano. This makes a single serving but it’s a pretty stiff drink
This Hanky Panky cocktail is a very interesting variation on a martini. The Fernet Branca takes it in a completely different direction than any martini recipe I normally would make. The sweet vermouth is a good counterpoint to the bitter herbs of the pleasantly intriguing, yet almost medicinal, Fernet Branca. I wouldn’t dare take sides on the stirred vs. shaken preparation of a martini, so I tried both. (Okay, if pressed, I am a little partial to the presence of ice floes that you get with a well-shaken martini). I tried this two ways. Both were lovely. My first martini was prepared exactly to this recipe, using my most special gin (Junipero from Fritz Maytag’s Anchor Distilling) and stirred. My second martini was made with more ordinary Tanqueray and shaken. The Junipero or another premium gin makes things slightly more interesting although both martinis were pleasing. The sweetness of this cocktail is something of a personal preference. Normally, our preferred vermouth:gin ratio is 1:3 using a dry vermouth. This Hanky Panky cocktail is a bit on the sweet side for a martini. I would make this drink again but I would use a lighter hand with the Fernet Branca (just 1 teaspoon or 5ml) and try a vermouth:gin ratio of 1:4 given the sweetness of the Carpano Antica Formula. Lastly, this recipe is really a “double” so if you made it for one serving, that would be it for the evening. Maybe split this into two smaller aperitif servings if there is wine or something else to be served afterwards.
Originally published October 07, 2016