Hanky Panky: Easy 3-Ingredient Classic Cocktail [The Ultimate Recipe]

The Hanky Panky cocktail is a martini drink known for its classic blend of gin, sweet red vermouth, and Fernet Branca. Created in the early 20th century, it is stirred, not shaken, and served in a martini glass, often garnished with an orange twist. This cocktail’s flavor profile is botanical, sweet and bitter, making it a popular choice.


The Hanky Panky cocktail consists of 45 ml (1.5 oz) of gin, 45 ml (1.5 oz) of sweet red vermouth, and a variable amount of Fernet Branca, depending on personal taste. The typical amount of Fernet Branca used in the Hanky Panky cocktail is between 1 ml and 10 ml (0.03 oz to 0.3 oz), which is anywhere between 2 dashes and 2 teaspoons. This combination creates a unique flavor profile, making the Hanky Panky a timeless favorite.

  1. Gin: 45 ml (1.5 oz)
  2. Sweet Red Vermouth: 45 ml (1.5 oz)
  3. Fernet Branca: 1-10 ml (2 dashes – 2 teaspoons), adjustable to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange zest twist – optional, for garnish

Ingredient Substitutes

If you’re looking to experiment or don’t have the original ingredients on hand, there are suitable substitutes for the Hanky Panky cocktail.

Instead of gin, try using vodka for a smoother taste. For sweet red vermouth, a dry white vermouth can offer a less sweet alternative. If Fernet Branca is unavailable, other fernet-type and bitter amaro liqueurs, or even a dash of Angostura and another aromatic bitters, can add a similar herbal complexity.

  • Gin: Vodka for a smoother flavor
  • Sweet Red Vermouth: Dry white vermouth for a less sweet note
  • Fernet Branca: Other fernet and bitter amaro liqueurs; or Angostura and other aromatic bitters

Ingredient Proportions

The Hanky Panky cocktail usually contains equal parts of gin and sweet red vermouth, typically 45 ml (1.5 oz) of each, with a variable amount of Fernet Branca. The Fernet Branca, typically between 1 ml to 10 ml (0.03 oz to 0.25 oz; or 2 dashes to 2 teaspoons), adds a distinctive edge. Because of the liqueur’s characteristic flavor, the recipe is adaptable to personal preference, allowing for a more pronounced herbal note or a smoother taste depending on the amount of Fernet Branca used.

  • Gin & Sweet Red Vermouth: Equal parts at 45 ml (1.5 oz) each
  • Fernet Branca: 1 ml to 7.5 ml (2 dashes to 2 teaspoons), adjustable for personal taste

Best Ingredients

For the Hanky Panky cocktail, quality ingredients are key. Choose a smooth, well-rounded gin and a richly flavored sweet red vermouth. These components should complement each other without overpowering. While Fernet Branca is the classic choice, there are many other fernets brands on the market, each offering different herbal, aromatic qualities that define the drink’s character.

  • Gin: Select a high-quality, smooth and well-rounded gin
  • Vermouth: Opt for a rich, flavorful sweet red vermouth
  • Fernet: Fernet Branca as a classic choice, other fernet brands for experimentation

Flavor Profile

The Hanky Panky cocktail offers a complex flavor profile. It begins with the juniper and botanical notes of gin, harmoniously blended with the sweet, slightly bitter taste of the aromatic vermouth. The Fernet Branca introduces a bold herbal undertone with a hint of bitterness, creating a layered, intriguing drink. This cocktail is known for its balanced drinkability, appealing to both novices and connoisseurs alike, offering a sophisticated yet accessible taste experience.

  • Gin: Botanical and juniper notes
  • Sweet Red Vermouth: Sweet, slightly bitter flavor
  • Fernet Branca: Bold, herbal undertones
  • Overall: Balanced, sophisticated, and accessible to a wide range of palates

Tools & Equipment

To create the Hanky Panky cocktail, a jigger is needed for accurate measurement of ingredients. A mixing glass is used for combining the gin, vermouth, and fernet. A bar spoon is essential for stirring the mixture to the right consistency, and a strainer is required for a smooth pour into the serving glass. Lastly, a martini glass enhances the drinking experience.

  1. Jigger for accurate measurement
  2. Mixing glass for combining ingredients
  3. Bar spoon for stirring
  4. Strainer for a smooth pour
  5. Martini glass for serving

Instructions for Preparation

To prepare the Hanky Panky cocktail, start by measuring the gin, vermouth, and fernet, adjusting to taste as needed. Combine these in a mixing glass filled with ice, then stir for about 15-30 seconds for optimal chilling and dilution. Strain the mixture into a martini glass, preferably chilled. Optionally, garnish with an orange twist.

  1. Measure Ingredients: Using the jigger, measure gin, vermouth and fernet.
  2. Combine in Mixing Glass: Add the measured ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice.
  3. Stir Well: Using the bar spoon, stir the mixture for about 15-30 seconds to chill and dilute the cocktail slightly.
  4. Strain into Glass: Strain the cocktail into a martini glass, ideally chilled, using the strainer.
  5. Optional Garnish: For an added touch, garnish with an orange twist.

Stir or Shake

When preparing the Hanky Panky cocktail, stirring is the recommended method. Stirring with ice chills and combines the drink while ensuring a smooth, clear consistency without the aeration and excessive dilution that shaking can introduce.

  • Stirring recommended over shaking
  • Ensures a smooth, clear consistency
  • Prevents excessive dilution and aeration

Ice, Chilling & Dilution

For the preparation of the Hanky Panky cocktail, use large ice cubes in the mixing glass as they melt slower, minimizing dilution while effectively chilling the drink. For serving, the cocktail is traditionally served neat in a pre-chilled martini glass, without ice. However, if preferred on the rocks, use larger ice cubes in the serving glass to maintain the cocktail’s integrity for longer.

  • Preparation: Large ice cubes for stirring in the mixing glass
  • Serving: Serve neat in a pre-chilled martini glass

Troubleshooting Common Mistakes

The most common mistakes in preparing a Hanky Panky cocktail include over-diluting by excessive stirring, imbalance in ingredient ratios, and using subpar ingredients. To avoid these, stir until just chilled, adhere to the recommended proportions, and choose quality ingredients. Ensuring the right balance of flavors is key to the perfect Hanky Panky cocktail.

  • Avoid over-diluting, stir until just chilled
  • Adhere to recommended ingredient ratios for balanced flavors
  • Use quality ingredients for better flavor


The presentation of the Hanky Panky cocktail significantly enhances the drinking experience. The choice of glassware and garnish not only adds to the visual appeal but also complements the cocktail’s flavors and aromas. A well-presented Hanky Panky is a feast for the senses, making the act of sipping this classic drink a more enjoyable experience.


Traditionally, the Hanky Panky is served in a martini glass, which allows the aromas to concentrate and enhances the sipping experience. For an alternative presentation, consider a coupe glass, which also highlights the cocktail’s elegance and makes for an attractive serving option. The choice of glassware can subtly alter the drinking experience and can be tailored to personal preference or the occasion.

  • Classic: Martini glass
  • Alternative: Coupe glass


The classic garnish for a Hanky Panky is an orange twist, which adds a citrus aroma complementing the botanicals in the cocktail. For a creative twist, consider a maraschino cherry for a touch of sweetness, or a sprig of rosemary for an aromatic herbal note. Garnishes can be playful and inventive, offering a chance to personalize each cocktail.

  • Classic: Orange twist for a citrus aroma
  • Creative: Maraschino cherry for sweetness, rosemary sprig for an herbal note

By paying attention to presentation, glassware, and garnish, the Hanky Panky cocktail is elevated from a mere drink to a crafted experience, delighting not just the palate but also the eyes and nose.

Variations & Riffs

The key variations of a Hanky Panky cocktail include the Negroni, blending gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari for a sweet-bitter taste; the Martinez, featuring maraschino liqueur; the Manhattan, with whiskey in the mix; and the Boulevardier, a whiskey twist on the Negroni. The Toronto cocktail with Canadian rye, and the contemporary Fernet About It with orange liqueur, highlight Fernet Branca’s versatility.

  1. Negroni: A famous Italian cocktail, similar in spirit to the Hanky Panky. It combines gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari, offering a balance of sweetness and bitterness.
  2. Martinez: An older relative of the Martini and Hanky Panky, made with Old Tom gin, sweet red vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters.
  3. Manhattan: A classic that swaps gin for whiskey, combining it with sweet red vermouth and a dash of bitters.
  4. Boulevardier: Similar to the Negroni but uses whiskey instead of gin, balancing the sweetness of the sweet red vermouth and the bitterness of Campari.
  5. American Trilogy: A modern riff, blending rye whiskey, apple brandy, and orange bitters, offering a fruity and spicy take.
  6. Toronto: A Canadian twist to the Hanky Panky, featuring Canadian rye whiskey and Fernet Branca, garnished with an orange twist.
  7. Fernet About It: A contemporary variation, focusing on Fernet Branca with gin, sweet vermouth, and a splash of an orange liqueur.

Each of these numerous variations of the Hanky Panky offers unique flavors, catering to diverse palates, extending the cocktail’s classic appeal.

Experiment (Create Your Own Riff)

Creating your own riff on the Hanky Panky cocktail allows for personal expression in mixology. Start by understanding the classic structure: gin for its botanicals, sweet red vermouth for sweetness, and Fernet Branca for a herbal twist.

Experiment by substituting gin with other spirits like vodka, whiskey or tequila for a different base. Swap sweet vermouth with dry white vermouth, or other aromatized fortified wines, for varied sweetness levels and flavors. Fernet Branca can be replaced with other fernet liqueurs and bitters to alter the herbal note.

  • Gin: Vodka, whiskey or tequila
  • Sweet Red Vermouth: Dry white vermouth, other aromatized fortified wines
  • Fernet Branca: Different bitters or fernet liqueurs

Remember, balance is key in cocktail crafting, so adjust proportions to harmonize the new flavors. This approach to creating your own Hanky Panky riff encourages exploration while maintaining the essence of the cocktail, offering a personalized drink experience.

Serving Occasions

The Hanky Panky cocktail, with its sophisticated blend of flavors, is perfect for a variety of occasions. It’s an excellent choice for elegant evening events, cocktail parties, or as a refined after-dinner drink. Its versatility also makes it suitable for casual gatherings or as a special treat during a quiet night in. The cocktail’s classic nature lends itself well to celebrations, adding a touch of timeless elegance to any event.

  • Ideal for elegant evening events and cocktail parties
  • Perfect as an after-dinner drink
  • Suitable for casual gatherings and quiet nights in
  • Adds timeless elegance to celebrations

Food Pairings

When it comes to food pairings, the Hanky Panky cocktail’s rich and complex flavor profile complements a wide range of dishes. It pairs beautifully with appetizers like charcuterie or cheese platters, enhancing the flavors of both the drink and the food. For main courses, consider pairing it with grilled meats, rich pasta dishes, or flavorful seafood. The cocktail’s herbal and bitter notes can also balance out the richness of creamy or spicy foods.

  • Complements appetizers like charcuterie and cheese platters
  • Pairs well with grilled meats, rich pasta, and seafood
  • Balances the richness of creamy or spicy dishes

The Hanky Panky cocktail’s versatility in both serving occasions and food pairings makes it a valuable addition to any culinary experience, elevating the flavors and the overall dining atmosphere.

Why is the Cocktail Called a Hanky Panky?

The Hanky Panky cocktail got its name from Sir Charles Hawtrey, a renowned actor, who famously exclaimed, “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!” when he first tried this cocktail created by Ada Coleman, the head bartender at The Savoy in London in the early 20th century, who prepared the drink especially for him as a regular customer.

The term ‘hanky-panky’, colloquially referring to playful or mischievous behavior, perfectly captured the cocktail’s spirited blend of gin, sweet red vermouth, and the herbal punch of fernet, giving it a memorable and lasting name. The cocktail has been known by this name ever since.

Hanky Panky Cocktail

Hanky Panky (Martini)

The Hanky Panky, a classic cocktail with gin, sweet red vermouth, and Fernet Branca, offers a smooth texture and striking amber hue, served in a martini glass with an orange twist, ideal for sophisticated soirees and pairing well with a range of dishes from charcuterie to seafood.
Total Time 5 minutes
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  • 1 Measuring jigger
  • 1 Mixing glass
  • 1 Bar spoon
  • 1 Strainer
  • 1 Martini glass
  • 1 Citrus peeler/knife (optional - for garnish)


  • oz Gin
  • oz Vermouth (sweet red vermouth)
  • 1 tsp Fernet Branca (to taste - from 2 dashes to 2 teaspoons)


  • Pre-chill a martini glass with ice water or in the freezer.
  • Using a jigger, measure equal parts of gin and sweet red vermouth, and pour them into a mixing glass.
  • Add some Fernet Branca, adjusting the amount to your taste.
  • Fill up the mixing glass with ice.
  • Using a bar spoon, stir the mixture gently, until well combined and chilled.
  • Using a strainer, strain into the chilled martini glass.
  • Optionally garnish with an orange twist.


Calories: 137kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 0.03gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 35mgSugar: 0.5gCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.1mg
Calories: 137kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: Fernet Branca, gin, vermouth
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