ada coleman- bartender- savoy-hanky-panky

Ada Coleman: A Trailblazer Behind the Bar

Crafting Classics: Ada Coleman's Pioneering Spirit Behind The Savoy's Bar

Ada "Coley" Coleman's name is etched in the annals of bartending history as one of the first female bartenders to achieve international recognition. Her tenure at the Savoy Hotel's American Bar in London not only broke gender barriers but also set new standards for cocktail craftsmanship. For those of us in the bartending industry, Coleman’s legacy is a testament to skill and innovation, irrespective of gender.

Early Life and Career

Ada Coleman began her illustrious career at the Savoy Hotel in 1903, quickly rising through the ranks to become the head bartender. At a time when the profession was predominantly male-dominated, Coleman's presence at the bar was both pioneering and inspirational. Her charisma and mixology skills made her a favorite among the bar's prestigious clientele.

Innovations and Contributions

Coleman is best remembered for her invention of the Hanky Panky cocktail, a delightful mix of gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca. This cocktail was not only a testament to her inventiveness but also became a signature drink at the Savoy's American Bar. Her ability to blend flavors seamlessly and her meticulous attention to detail were hallmarks of her style.

Ada Coleman at The Savoy

ada coleman bartender at the savoy hotel

During her tenure at The Savoy, Coleman served a distinguished clientele that included royalty, celebrities, and political figures. Her reputation as a top-notch bartender grew, making the American Bar a landmark for cocktail enthusiasts. Her influence extended beyond the drinks she served; she mentored many young bartenders, imparting her knowledge and passion for the craft.

The Legacy of Ada Coleman

Ada Coleman's contributions to bartending extend beyond her recipes. She broke significant ground for women in the hospitality industry, proving that skills and professionalism know no gender. Her story is especially inspiring, reminding us of the importance of inclusivity and equality in every professional field.


Ada Coleman's pioneering spirit and exceptional bartending skills continue to inspire generations of mixologists. As we look back on her career, we are reminded of the progress the bartending community has made and the ongoing journey toward greater diversity and creativity behind the bar. Coleman's life is not just a story of personal success but a chapter in the broader narrative of the evolution of bartending as a respected craft.

Ada "Coley" Coleman remains a celebrated figure, a symbol of resilience and excellence in the cocktail world, whose legacy enriches our understanding and appreciation of the art of mixology.