Saturday, October 8, 2022

A Little Hanky Panky and the Weekly Menu #CooktheBooks

The October/November Selection for Cook the Books Club is Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton Patterson.

Cooking with Fernet Branca
For those of you who are not regular readers and don't already know it.....I live under a rock.  It never ceases to amaze me how little knowledge I have of what's happening in the world outside my own little pocket of space.

When the announcement was made for the next 2022 selection of books for this club, I noted that this was the final selection, chosen by Simona of Briciole.  When I finished the third of the four books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I went on line and ordered up Cooking with Fernet Branca.  

Simona's invitation post had not yet gone live when I started reading this novel that is set on a mountain top in Tuscany.  As I was reading, I started cracking up, I thought Fernet Branca was going to be a person!!!!  Imagine my surprise when I learned that Fernet Branca wasn't a chef but an Italian Liqueur.  I private messaged my friend Cam right away.  I was laughing so hard at myself that I could barely type.

Fernet Branca

I have since read Simona's Invitation Post where it is very clear that Fernet Branca is not a who but a what.  That's what I get for being an over achiever who wanted to get this book so I could read it while on vacation at the end of September.

So the story line of this book is that an expat from England rents a house in Tuscany where he thinks he is going to have privacy and solitude to work on his latest project, ghost writing autobiographies for celebrities.  This notion is soon dispelled, however, when he learns that he has a neighbor, an expat from what appears to be a fictional town in Russia.

This book is supposed to be a comedic satire and I got that, however, satire is not my cup of tea.  So laughing at myself was the last snicker I got while reading this book.  I did take it on vacation with me, and ended up watching a movie on the flight instead of reading, which is something I never do.  

I opened it a couple of times while at the resort but I just could not get involved with the characters nor could I find any delight in the goofy recipes that he concocted.  I was certainly not inspired to create any of them.

hanky panky cocktail

I was, however, inspired to explore Fernet Branca, learning that it is a bitter liqueur used in Italy as a digestif.  I also found several recipes for cocktails using Fernet Branca.  I do like bitter and often enjoy Compari so I decided to create a cocktail.  

I was happy to find a little 2 oz. bottle of Fernet Branca at Total Wines as I wasn't sure how I was going to enjoy it.  I have to say that this cocktail is delicious!!  It is bitter and it is strong so I can see why they call it a Hanky Panky.  I will be buying a full size of Fernet Branca soon as I think this may become one of my new favorite cocktails.

I don't know if the two expats ever got close enough for any Hanky Panky as the book became due back to the library and I didn't bother to renew it, however, I do know that they would love this cocktail.

You still have plenty of time to read this book and join us. You can learn how at our Cook the Books Guidelines.  Please don't let my lack of humor affect your decision.  I also am not a fan of slapstick comedy.  If you enjoy The 3 Stooges, Benny Hill or movies like Airplane then you will probably think this book is very funny.  

Tonight, I am preparing dinner for my son in law's parents who are visiting from France and I think I will serve this cocktail after dinner.  You will find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Tomorrow my sister and her husband are coming over for dinner.  On Friday, I am taking dinner to Amy's house to celebrate her birthday which is on Monday.  The rest of the week is pretty quiet but that is always subject to change, as is the Weekly Menu, but here it is as it stands at the moment.
Saturday Dinner Party
Fall Charcuterie Platter
Harira (Morrocan Vegetable Soup)
Spinach Salad with Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese Toasts
Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables
Wild Mushrooms with Chestnuts
Pears with Chocolate Crumble

Sunday Supper with Dawn and Tom
Brussels Sprouts Salad
Beef GHOULash
Bread Stick Snakes
Butternut Squash Rice Pudding

Meatless Monday
Crunchy Chickpeas Masala
Indian Spiced Chili

Out for dinner after Choir practice

Mashed Potatoes

Polish Stuffed Shells

Friday-Amy's Birthday Celebration 
Jack O' Lantern Cheese Bites
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Caesar Salad
Garlic Bread
Pumpkin Mocha Swirl Bundt Cake

Cocktails, Digestif, Alcohol, Drinks, Gin,
Italian fusion
Yield: 1 cocktail
Author: Wendy Klik
Hanky Panky Cocktail

Hanky Panky Cocktail

Gin, Sweet Vermouth and Fernet Branca combine to make a smooth drink with a touch of bitter.
Prep time: 2 MinTotal time: 2 Min


  • 1 jigger gin
  • 1 jigger sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Fernet Branca
  • Ice
  • Orange Slice for garnish


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add the gin, sweet vermouth and frenet branca.
  3. Shake until combined and chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange slice.


Adapted from a recipe originally made in the Savoy Hotel in London.

Nutrition Facts



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  1. I am glad you got a good laugh out of the book, even though it was not from the book's content. I am also glad you enjoyed the cocktail you made. Thank you so much for contributing to this edition of Cook the Books :)

  2. Sounds like the perfect antidote for a difficult day! And I’ve been having a number of those! Need some Hanky Panky!

  3. I am laughing out loud regarding the main character! Lovely drink. Hope all is well and getting better!

  4. Even being Italian-American I have never tried this liquor and was not inclined to do so now because you can only purchase bottles rather than tastes. Even so I bet it made a good cocktail


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