It’s finally here! It’s World Gin Day and the last of our Six Classic Gin Cocktail count down. I’ve saved a special one for today. As a feminist and gin writer and cocktail enthusiast, Ada Coleman is one of my great heroes.
Ada, or Coley as she was better known, was head bartender at the Savoy Hotel from 1909 to 1925, to this day she remains the only woman to have served in the role. She was a wonderful bartender. When she wasn’t shaking cocktails at the Savoy, she hosted dinner parties and socalised with film and theatre stars. And she mentored Harry Craddock who wrote The Savoy Cocktail Book.
Her most famous cocktail was the Hanky Panky. In 1925 she told the story of the Hanky Panky to The People:
The late Charles Hawtrey… was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was overworking, 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.
30mL red vermouth
2 dashes Fernet Branca
Combine in a shaker with ice, stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.
Fernet is an Italian amaro bitter spirit. Fernet Branca was created by an Italian woman, Maria Branca, in the late 1800s. So the Hanky Panky is a double lady cocktail! But if you can’t get your hands on Fernet Branca, any bitters will do.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the World Gin Day count down. It’s been fun making it, but next week I’ll be back to not posting everyday, I don’t know how people do it! In the next few days I’ll be making up all six as recipe cards as a free download so watch this space.