Down in five: Kay Plunkett-Hogge

Categories: Expert guidance

Food and drinks writer Kay Plunkett-Hogge on the perfect martini, a new discovery and an ideal match for sherry

What’s your favourite cocktail for every day drinking?
Well, it has to be the martini—served as cold as the bottom of a penguin’s foot and as dry as the Sahara. It is a classic—but it has to made correctly. A good measure of Portobello Road gin, a fairy dusting of Belsazar dry vermouth and plenty of fresh ice. Stir, stir, stir. Pour into a beautiful glass, garnish with an olive or a twist of lemon, or not, and enjoy the nearest thing to perfection you can find!

What’s your latest discovery?
The improved whisky cocktail, created by the legendary Jerry Thomas, the godfather of cocktails, to improve upon the old fashioned. It tastes mellow, smooth and a little sweet, and it has the kick of a mule! Pour about 60ml Four Roses bourbon into an ice-filled glass. Add a couple of dashes each of sugar syrup, maraschino, pastis (or absinthe), and angostura bitters. Stir until colder than a witch’s stare. Garnish with a slice of orange or a cherry. Serve straight away and sip wryly.

What drink would you save for a special occasion?
That would have to be a champagne cocktail. Or even just a great champagne, unsullied. If it’s the cocktail we are after, then I’d grab a bottle of icy cold Renard Barnier and pour it elegantly over a sugar cube doused with some orange bitters and a dash of brandy, all in a beautiful vintage flute.

If I’m going for pure indulgence, then it has to be a frosted glass of Gosset NV, glorious and buttery, which comes to our shores from the oldest winery in Champagne. It would be rude not to have at least a dozen of Richard Haward’s Mersea native oysters alongside, with just a dash of lemon juice and pepper. Or, if there’s not an ‘r’ in the month, with a few thin slices of really good parmesan cheese. Delicious.

Who would you share it with?
No-brainer. My husband Fred, my chief shaker and stirrer. We’d have some Louis Armstrong or Sinatra on in the background, low lighting and lower voices. Musing on today, planning for tomorrow.

Favourite match with food?
I am going to go off piste here; I’m not a huge fan of cocktails with food unless it’s a margarita with Mexican food, or a mojito with Cuban, but I adore sherry with food—especially the Barbadillo Manzanilla served chilled with some freshly cooked langoustine and aioli or sticky garlicky prawns, along with a crusty Bread Ahead loaf and some good unsalted butter. Really rather splendid.