When one is at the tail-end of a stomach bug, a little Italian digestif like Fernet Branca is the only way to make it through the last steps of a churning wilderness. The only cocktail I know that balances its bitterness with a deftly-integral orange peel is the Hanky Panky. Legend has it that it was created by the first (and reportedly thus far only) females head bartender at The Savoy’s American Bar, Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman. She recalls the creation of the cocktail thusly: ““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.”
This is not one for the sweet-loving faint-of-fruity-heart; the Fernet Branca is no joke, and most modern takes on this chestnut add some sort of sweetness (orange juice or other nonsense) to take the edge off of it. I prefer the original, just keep in mind that the orange peel is of absolute necessity.
2 dashes Fernet Branca
½ part Italian Vermouth
½ part Dry Gin
This, to my knowledge, is still the only classic cocktail that shares a name with a Madonna song. Can’t hate on that. Well, you can, but you shouldn’t be coming here.