For the longest time I’ve been intrigued with Lychees. A few years ago I spied them in the market when they were in season and without thought I snatched up two punnets and carried them happily home. I had no idea what I was going to do with them (other than eat them out of hand) but that was really an insignificant matter in my mind. I was ridiculously thrilled with my purchase and savoring the fruit hoarding high I get periodically when I find something special.
Their scaly, dullish red skins are like no other fruit I’ve known and at first glance you would be hard pressed to think anything delicious could live under it’s textural, almost desiccated casing. The fruit inside is nothing short of heavenly. Sweet but not overly so, fragrant and ever so slightly floral. They beg to be added to cocktails.
So this summer, I’ve been doing exactly that. My go to drink of choice has been a shaken lychee martini made with the smallest amount of vermouth, lychee syrup and vodka with a lychee or two added for garnish. In my humble opinion the best way to enjoy a lychee is by eating a fresh one. However they are in season for a short time and if you live in an area where you simply cannot get them, canned lychees are the best way to go. Besides, you will need that glorious lychee syrup to make this drink, and you can easily find them at most Asian markets.
If you can get both go for it. Fresh lychees are way more fragrant; once canned they lose a bit of their florally freshy goodness, but are still really really lovely. For this recipe I thought I’d change up my usual method and throw in some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and leave out the vermouth. The juice adds a nice, citrusy component to the cocktail without making it too sweet. I find I’m preferring my cocktails less sweet and more complex in flavors lately, but if you prefer sweeter, just add less grapefruit juice and more lychee syrup.
- Lychee Grapefruit Martini
- 4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
- 4 oz lychee syrup (from the can)
- 4 fresh lychees peeled and pitted or alternatively use the canned lychees
- 8 oz vodka
- In a large shaker combine the juice, syrup and the vodka with some ice. Shake until icy cold and pour into coupe glasses. Serve with a wedge of grapefruit and one whole lychee.