Every year, debate about what is or should be “the drink of the summer” engulfs the internet. But what about winter?
On a wild and woolly evening recently, my inner monologue asked and answered that question in a single sip at Chinatown whisky and cocktail bar One or Two.
The Tunnel is a cocktail described on the bar’s menu as a “Martini-Negroni lovechild”. Bar owner Andy Chu says it has “blow-your-mind” potential. He’s onto something.
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Chu’s CV reads like a catalogue of Melbourne’s best cocktail bars – the Everleigh, Above Board, Black Pearl and Byrdi – but the Tunnel isn’t his creation. The under-the-radar cocktail dates back to the early 1920s, and more recently its renaissance has been credited to Franck Audoux of acclaimed Parisian bar Cravan. But Chu, a self-appointed advocate, says, “I really want more people to know about it.”
Your first sip will elicit a double take, as two familiar flavour profiles ping in your brain then dance back and forth. “It’s so complex,” Chu says. “It changes with every sip.”
While notably more Negroni than Martini, if you accept his proposed parentage of the Tunnel, you could argue it’s inherited the best very characteristics of both while staying strong, sharp and sure to steel you for your re-entry to the wintry world outside.
Sweet vermouth gives the undeniably bitter Negroni an underlying syrupiness that Chu says puts some people, him included, off. There’s none of that here. Instead, the Tunnel brings in dry vermouth, walking the sweet-dry tightrope with expert precision.
The One or Two Tunnel is heavy on the gin, using 45 millilitres of Tanqueray No. Ten (“a powerful gin!” Chu exclaims) with 10 mils each of dry French and sweet Italian vermouth, and 10 mils of Campari. It’s stirred, chilling it, and served “up” in a Martini glass (rather than in the style of a Negroni, in a rocks glass with a big old ice cube).
“When it warms up, it’s still gin-forward and doesn’t get too sticky with the sugar content,” Chu adds.
For the best of two timeless cocktails, take the Tunnel.
The Tunnel will be available at One or Two throughout winter. Most good cocktail bars will make it for you, too.