Today we’re mixing up the Tunnel Negroni for the anniversary of the day in 1937 that the Lincoln Tunnel opened. Yes, we’re talking about the tunnel under the Hudson River connecting Midtown Manhattan to Weehawken, New Jersey. The heavy traffic at rush hour, the tolls, it’s one of the most reviled stretches of road on the planet. After all, someone once asked why people in New York are so sad. The answer was that the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.
Sure, it’s not the only way between Manhattan and New Jersey. There’s also the Holland Tunnel between Jersey City and Lower Manhattan. But we’d rather have a drink than navigate either of them, so we’re mixing the Tunnel Negroni as an alternative. Besides, it’s always good to add another drink to the pantheon of Negroni Variations.
The Lincoln Tunnel
The Holland Tunnel, the first across the river, was already under construction in 1923 when another to midtown was proposed. The popularity of the Holland Tunnel after it opened in 1927 led to talk of another between Weehawken and midtown. A third tunnel across the East River between Queens and midtown, now known as the Triborough Tunnel, had been under discussion since 1921.
The three-tunnel idea was popular as it would ease travel all the way between New Jersey and eastern Long Island. After a lot of wrangling over various routes and who would be in charge of the project the newly created Port Authority announced in 1930 that what is now the Lincoln Tunnel would be called the Midtown Manhattan Tunnel.
Between the Great Depression delaying financing and other issues it wasn’t until 1933 that chief engineers were named. Construction on the first of what would become three tubes began in 1934. By April, 1937 the tunnel was 75% complete and the Port Authority decided to rename it so it wouldn’t be confused with the Queens-Midtown tunnel. That’s when it got the name Lincoln Tunnel, because the Port Authority believed it was “parallel to the importance of the George Washington Bridge.”
The first tube was formally dedicated on December 21, 1937 and traffic began passing at 4:00 AM the next day. A second tube was soon added and by 1949 a third was proposed due to increased traffic. As one might expect traffic has only increased since, much to the consternation of users. As one unknown person put it, “I’m starting to think the Lincoln Tunnel is actually a portal to hell. And rush hour is just the line to get in.”
The Tunnel Negroni
Given the choice, we’ll select the Tunnel Negroni over driving the Lincoln Tunnel any day of the week. The drink comes to us from Franck Andoux, the owner of Cravan, a small Paris café with a well-used bar in the middle. The Tunnel Negroni recipe was first written up by Matt Hranek in his book The Negroni: A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail.
When you get down to it, the Tunnel Negroni is a very modest Negroni variation. Rather than swapping out base spirit or the near-defining Campari element it merely creates a dryer version of the original. It does so by substituting dry vermouth for a portion of the sweet vermouth component of a Negroni. In that sense it is similar to how an Old Pal cocktail creates what is really a dry version of the Boulevardier.
Mr. Andoux himself recommends using Punt e Mes rather than other sweet vermouths, and our Editorial Board agrees on this choice. It certainly adds a greater depth of flavor than a standard sweet vermouth.
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Dry vermouth
- ⅔ oz Campari
- ⅓ oz Punt e Mes or sweet vermouth when Punt e Mes is not available.
- Garnish: grapefruit coin
- Add all ingredients except garnish to your trusty mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir to chill.
- Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
- Cut coin (small, round section of peel) from grapefruit and express over drink. Float on top.