Recipe: Want a Little Hanky-Panky? Then Mix Gin and Vermouth


Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.

Today’s call comes by way of Kate Nelson, bartender at All’onda (22 East 13th Street; 212-231-2236)

What’s your favorite drink to order when you go out?

The hanky-panky. Terrific name, even better drink!

What is it about this drink that you like so much?

I love gin, and I love vermouth, both spirits which feature prominently in the hanky-panky. If I’m going to a cocktail bar with friends on a rare night I’m not working, I’ll select this one, because it’s a drink that I know I’ll enjoy, and the bartenders will likely know it. I love that it’s a boozy cocktail in that all the elements are different liquors, but the relatively large vermouth quotient means that the cocktail doesn’t hit me like a sledgehammer. What I think really makes the drink stand out is the addition of Fernet Branca, an Italian amaro with a big, burly personality, which, in this case, acts as a gentle nuance. Especially now that the cooler months are approaching, this is a wintry gin cocktail at its finest.

Has it always been your favorite? How long did it take you to find it? What was that process like?

I learned about this cocktail several years ago when I bartended in D.C. I was struck by its simplicity (I tend to prefer simple, elegant cocktails) and that, by all accounts, it was a variation on another of my favorite classics, the martinez. Also, it’s a drink that Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy in London, created during the early 1900s, and it certainly made an impression on me that a woman had been at the helm of a major cocktail bar back in those days.

Could you name a few places around town that make your favorite drink?

I lived near The Richardson bar in Brooklyn this past year, and I was delighted to find the hanky-panky on the menu there. I ordered the drink off-menu at Death & Co. not too long ago. The hanky-panky is a real classic, and luckily, there are a lot of bars here in the city that make it their business to know classic cocktails. That means I can order the drink at many cocktail bars, even if it’s not on the menu, and know that it will be well made.

What’s the recipe, for those who want to make it at home?

1 1/2 ounces gin (Dorothy Parker gin from New York Distilling Co. works great)
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth (Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is nice here)
Barspoon of Fernet Branca

Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with an orange peel.