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….
2 parts vodka
2 parts lychee juice
1 whole lychee, on a toothpick, for garnish
1 part Gin
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.