Well, I found it. And I made a very old drink with it. It was created at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London by the first bartender of renown at the Savoy, and indeed, one of the first female bartenders of renown anywhere, Ada Coleman. It was made for Sir Charles Hawtrey, Noel Coward's mentor, who took a sip and exclaimed, "By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!" And thus the Hanky Panky was born. Now, let it be said that at that time in England, hanky-panky did not mean sexual tomfoolery. No, it was used to connote black magic, sleight of hand, legerdemain...that sort of thing. So the black magic comes in the combining of three unlikely ingredients into one delightful beverage.
Hanky PankyIt really makes for a most unusual cocktail, but a good one. I can see how Sir Charles deemed it black magic. The orange really makes it, somehow tempering the strange, herbal character of the Fernet, and blending it with the gin and vermouth. I don't know where that pixie came from, but I like her pixie drink!
1 3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes (I used just under 1/2 tsp) Fernet Branca
Stir all with ice, strain into a chilled glass, and squeeze a small bit of orange zest over the drink.
Addendum: For what it's worth, here's a fun little article from Wayne Curtis (author of "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails") that he wrote for the Atlantic about Fernet Branca. I am now sipping it straight, and it's everything he says it is. I find myself growing to like it, though! The Bitter Beginning, from the November 1998 issue of "The Atlantic."