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Monday, February 26, 2024

Hanky Panky with a Cognac Twist: A Stirring Tale of Classic Mixology


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In the vast realm of classic cocktails, the Hanky Panky stands as a beacon of timeless allure—a libation that intertwines the complexity of Cognac with the herbal nuances of vermouth and a dash of aromatic bitters. This cocktail, originally concocted by the legendary Ada Coleman at the Savoy Hotel in London, has undergone a delightful evolution over the years. Today, let’s embark on a journey to unravel the history, explore the recipe, and savor the unique charm that Cognac brings to the Hanky Panky.

A Glimpse into the Origins
The Hanky Panky’s intriguing history begins in the early 20th century when Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the American Bar in London’s Savoy Hotel, crafted this cocktail as a remedy for Sir Charles Hawtrey, a popular actor of the time. The cocktail’s name supposedly derives from Hawtrey’s expression of delight, declaring it “the real hanky-panky.” With its precise combination of gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca, the Hanky Panky has become a classic that continues to captivate cocktail enthusiasts around the globe.

Elevating the Hanky Panky with the sophistication of Cognac introduces a velvety richness to this already distinguished concoction. Here’s a classic recipe for the Cognac-infused Hanky Panky:

1 1/2 oz Cognac
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Fernet-Branca
Orange twist for garnish

Fill a mixing glass with ice.
Add Cognac, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca to the mixing glass.
Stir the mixture well to achieve proper dilution and chilling.
Strain the concoction into a chilled cocktail glass.
Express the oil from an orange twist over the drink by giving it a gentle twist, then drop the twist into the glass as a garnish.

Classic Hanky Panky Cocktail with Cognac and an Orange Garnish
Classic Hanky Panky Cocktail with Cognac and an Orange Garnish

The Cognac Complexity
While the traditional Hanky Panky relies on the boldness of gin, swapping it out for Cognac introduces a layer of complexity that transforms the cocktail. Cognac, with its nuanced flavors of dried fruit, oak, and subtle spices, harmonizes seamlessly with the herbal and bitter notes of Fernet-Branca and the sweetness of vermouth. This sophisticated substitution elevates the Hanky Panky into a drink that caters to a diverse range of palates.

A Symphony of Flavors
The Cognac-infused Hanky Panky is a symphony of flavors that dances across the taste buds. The rich and velvety texture of Cognac provides a robust foundation, while the sweet vermouth contributes depth and a hint of sweetness. Fernet-Branca, with its herbal and menthol notes, adds a layer of complexity and a touch of bitterness, creating a well-balanced and intriguing cocktail experience.

Visual and Aromatic Elegance
Beyond its exquisite taste, the Cognac-enhanced Hanky Panky offers a visual and aromatic experience. The deep amber hue of Cognac, combined with the herbal darkness of Fernet-Branca, creates an enticing presentation. The orange twist garnish, with its expressed oils, adds a burst of citrus aroma that heightens the overall sensory allure.

As we raise our glasses to the Hanky Panky with a Cognac twist, we salute the enduring legacy of classic cocktails and the artistry of mixology. This refined libation, born from the creativity of Ada Coleman, continues to evolve and captivate contemporary tastes. Whether enjoyed as a prelude to an evening of sophistication or as a toast to cocktail history, the Cognac-infused Hanky Panky is a testament to the timeless charm of a well-crafted drink.

Toast to the Hanky Panky—a harmonious blend of history, flavor, and the enduring magic of the cocktail renaissance!

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