Pioneering Female Bartender Ada Coleman Created Iconic Hanky Panky Cocktail

The article tells the story of Ada Coleman, a pioneering female bartender at the American Bar in London's Savoy hotel, who created the iconic Hanky Panky cocktail in the 1920s and broke gender barriers in the male-dominated profession, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of mixology. Set against the backdrop of London's luxury nightlife scene in the early 20th century, Coleman's journey and contributions are highlighted, including her innovative recipe and its enduring popularity. This description focuses on the primary topic of Ada Coleman and her achievements, the main entity being the American Bar at the Savoy hotel, and the context of London's luxury nightlife scene in the 1920s. It also highlights the significant actions and consequences of Coleman's work, including her creation of the Hanky Panky cocktail and her trailblazing role as a female bartender. The description provides objective and relevant details that will guide the AI in creating an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the setting, characters, and key elements of the story.

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Pioneering Female Bartender Ada Coleman Created Iconic Hanky Panky Cocktail

Pioneering Female Bartender Ada Coleman Created Iconic Hanky Panky Cocktail

In the early 20th century, Ada Coleman made her mark as a trailblazing female bartender at the renowned American Bar at the Savoy hotel in London. Among her many contributions to the world of mixology, her most enduring legacy is the creation of the iconic Hanky Panky cocktail in the 1920s.

The Hanky Panky is a classic cocktail that features a harmonious blend of London dry gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. The drink gained popularity thanks to London stage actor Sir Charles Hawtrey, who, according to London papers in the mid-1920s, called it "the real hanky panky" after Coleman presented it to him.

Coleman's journey at the American Bar began in 1903 when she was reassigned from a sister property where she had worked at the hotel's flower shop and later the bar. Her skill and dedication led her to become the head bartender, a remarkable achievement for a woman in an era when the profession was dominated by men.

The Hanky Panky recipe is a simple yet riffable one, consisting of 2 oz. London dry gin, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, and 1 tsp. Fernet-Branca, stirred gently with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail coupe. While the original recipe calls for gin, adventurous drinkers can swap it out with other spirits like blanco tequila, Irish whiskey, or aquavit. A more herbaceous vermouth like Martini & Rossi Rosso is said to suit the recipe better than more vanilla-inflected options like Carpano Antica Formula.

Despite her significant contributions, Coleman's tenure at the American Bar came to an end in 1926 when she was replaced by Harry Craddock. A report from the Aspen Daily Times in February 1926 stated that management told Coleman and another female colleague that the bar was changing and they had "earned a rest," suggesting that she may have been removed from her position due to catering to American clientele who were unaccustomed to seeing female bartenders. The bar would not see another female head bartender for nearly a century after Coleman's departure.

Ada Coleman's creation of the Hanky Panky cocktail remains a significant milestone in the history of mixology. Her skill, creativity, and pioneering spirit not only left an indelible mark on the American Bar at the Savoy hotel but also paved the way for future generations of female bartenders. The enduring popularity of the Hanky Panky serves as a testament to Coleman's legacy and her lasting impact on the world of cocktails.

Key Takeaways

  • Ada Coleman created the iconic Hanky Panky cocktail in the 1920s.
  • The Hanky Panky features London dry gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca.
  • Coleman was a trailblazing female bartender at the Savoy hotel's American Bar.
  • She was replaced in 1926, and the bar didn't have another female head bartender for nearly a century.
  • Coleman's legacy paved the way for future generations of female bartenders.