If I were stranded on a desert island—a desert island with a bar, that is—and I could have only one book to use when my memory failed me, Harry Craddock’s 1930 “The Savoy Cocktail Book” would keep me company. It’s probably the 20th century’s most important tome of its kind, having preserved many of the era’s most important drinks.
Craddock, an American who fled the country when Prohibition hit in 1920, documented hundreds of drinks that he served (and, in some cases, invented) at American Bar in London’s swank Savoy Hotel. More than a few of them—the Pegu Club, for instance—are still served today in cocktail bars.
The Savoy Hotel closed in 2007 for a three-year renovation, reopening in October 2010 with a few new bells and whistles. But while the establishment has been updated and modernized, cocktail fans will still recognize the historic bar. And that’s where they can still order some of the bar’s most famous drinks.
Craddock wasn’t the only head bartender at the Savoy who stood out from the crowd. He followed Ada Coleman, after all. “Coley,” as she was known to her regulars, graced American Bar from 1903 until 1925 and served drinks to just about everybody, including Mark Twain, Diamond Jim Brady and the Prince of Wales. Toast her today by fixing her signature Hanky Panky, a fabulous mixture featuring equal parts gin and sweet vermouth. It starts off like a Martinez, but rather than maraschino liqueur and bitters, it receives a couple dashes of the bitter amaro Fernet-Branca for good measure.
Coleman created the cocktail for Sir Charles Hawtrey, a celebrated actor who visited the bar. As the story goes, he asked for a drink with a punch. Coleman served him this fine number, leading him to exclaim “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!” The name stuck.
This recipe is adapted from Charles H. Baker Jr.’s 1939 book, “The Gentleman’s Companion.”
Watch Now: How to Make a Hanky Panky
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Fernet-Branca
- Garnish: orange twist
Add the gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange twist.