For Valentine's, we're prescribing a vintage cocktail invented by one of the few early female bartenders on record, Ada Coleman of the Savoy Hotel in London. Her signature drink, the Hanky Panky, is darkly bittersweet -- an excellent choice for lovers who want to move on from treacly 'tinis and try something multi-dimensional and mysterious.
We've paired it with a special board that complements all the flavors in the cocktail, from crisp fennel to candied ginger and even blue cheese. You know, we have a cheese obsession (one of us has a cheese blog). Below, you'll find all the ingredients for this special Valentine's pairing, so you can make it for two. Or one. Or three?
The inspiration for this petit feast? The nesting heart bowl made by our friend JD Wolfe, a ceramicist based in Wisconsin. She has an Etsy shop, and these bowls were just picked up by Terrain. Fabulous. For us, Valentine's is all about celebrating the people we love and the artisans we know who bring hand-crafted beauty to the table.
Hanky Panky Cocktail
Naughty as this drink sounds, the phrase "hanky panky" meant black magic during the time this recipe was invented -- it wasn't a sexual innuendo. Interesting fact: this cocktail was created for actor Charles Hawtrey, who appeared in loads of films during the '30s and '40s and was well known for his "Carry On" series.
- 1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet Italian vermouth
- 1/4 ounce Fernet-Branca
- Orange twist, for garnish
Instructions: Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. To garnish, twist the peel over the surface of the drink to express the oil. Then, drop it into the drink.
The Hanky Panky Snack Plate
Since the Hanky Panky cocktail is herbaceous and aromatic with notes of juniper and anise, we wanted to play off those flavor notes -- something we paid a lot of attention to as we wrote our first book together, The New Cocktail Hour. For us, a drink always needs a little nosh, so we like to include tasting notes in just about everything we do. For us, a cocktail party -- even a small one -- always includes a fun cheese, in this case a raw-milk blue from Valley Shepherd Creamery in New Jersey. It's made by hand and sold at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
Blue Cheese: We used Crema de Blue, a raw-milk blue with a natural rind. It's earthy and full of bright minerality, which pairs well with the gin in this cocktail. Try Stilton, or if you want to add other cheeses select a firm sheep's milk cheese or a smoked cheese.
Candied ginger: Sweet, spicy, and bold, this pairs well with both the cocktail and the cheese. Candied pineapple also works well here.
Fresh fennel: We picked this tip up in Italy, where the Italians often serve sliced fennel with cured meats and cheeses. It's wonderful for cleansing the palate.
Olives: We like meaty Cerignolas here; they have plenty of flavor but they aren't overpowering.
Cured Meat: Saucisson Sec, made with red wine and herbs, works perfectly. If you like the taste of licorice, pick Finocchiona, which is made with fennel.
Black licorice: Believe it! A mild, salty licorice pairs with the minerality you often find in blue cheese. And, it pairs with the slight licorice taste in Fernet-Branca.
Fruit: Mission Figs (fresh or dried) or blueberries
Nuts: pistachios, roasted almonds, or walnuts
Something sweet: candy hearts, chocolate, or honey