The Birds ’n’ Bees is my spin on a favorite classic, the Hanky Panky, by one of my favorite bartending heroines: Ada Coleman, who began bartending at the ultra-swanky Savoy Hotel in London in 1903. Ada rose to the position of head bartender at the American Bar in The Savoy in 1925 and she’s still making waves as one of the first women to make a serious impression on modern mixology.
The original recipe for the Hanky Panky is a stirred cocktail made with equal parts gin and sweet vermouth with a splash of Fernet Branca, a bitter aromatic Italian amaro. The Birds ’n’ Bees swaps sweet vermouth for Vermut, an incredible vermouth hailing from the region of Catalonia in Spain, that’s bitter, sweet, nutty and fruity, infused with a proprietary blend of herbs and botanicals. Instead of Fernet, I opt for an alternative cordial, nocino, a sweet, tannic walnut liqueur that flies a little under the radar in the U.S. but popular in Italy, especially during autumn when walnuts are harvested and infused into this heavenly cordial.
Instead of garnishing with the normal orange peel, I garnish with a pinch of bee pollen, a nutrient-rich superfood collected by worker bees, parts nectar and pollen, sweet and reminiscent of wildflowers and fresh citrus zest. When serving nocino, remember to alert any guest with a nut allergy.