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lychee martini

One of the things I love about living in Asia is the tropical fruit. Some of them I had never even heard of until I came to live in this part of the world – now mangosteen, mango, passion fruit and lychee are regular items on my shopping list. And it just so happens that the concentrated sweetness, fragrant aromas and textures of these fruits can create some of the most addictive cocktails I have ever tasted – especially lychee.

The first record of the Asian lychee fruit, also sometimes spelled litchi, is as early as 2000 B.C. It comes from a type of evergreen tree that can be found throughout SE Asia, China, Taiwan and India. In ancient times it was a delicacy in China, available only to those of the royal court. There were horseback couriers solely dedicated to transporting the fruit from Southern China, where it grows, to the royal court in the North so that it would arrive at its most fresh.

Today, while it’s commonly available in supermarkets all over Asia, even in the US you can find it in specialty markets…or worst case scenario, canned. While I wouldn’t want to snack on canned lychee the same way I do with fresh, if you have to used canned lychee for cocktails, it is an acceptable stand in to fresh.

While the options for lychee cocktails are seemingly limitless, I share with you my 3 favourite….

Lychee Martini
2 parts vodka
2 parts lychee juice
Splash vermouth
1 whole lychee, on a toothpick, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add vodka, lychee juice and vermouth. Shake until chilled. Pour into 2 martini glasses and drop the skewered lychees in (like you would with a traditional martini with olives).  Variation: you can add a splash of Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur to add a further kick to the bright fruit flavours.
Shanghai Fizz
1 part Gin
1 part Lychee Juice or Liqueur
1 part Pineapple Juice
Simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water)
1 sprig of Mint Leaf
1 whole Lychee
2 wedges of Lemon
Ginger Ale
Fill shaker with ice cubes. Add gin, lychee liqueur, pineapple juice, simple syrup, mint leaf, lychee and lemon. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top up with ginger ale.


Lychee Champagne Cocktail
2 parts Vodka
1 part Lychee Juice or Liqueur
1 splash Simple Syrup
1 whole Lychee

Fill shaker with ice cubes. Add Vodka, lychee liqueur and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a wine glass (ideally chilled). Top up with champagne. Garnish with a lychee.



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