Halloween is filled with all things creepy and cocktails are no exception. There are many things that you can do to add a little fright to your drinks, and this eyeball garnish is a fun option. The eyeballs are made using three simple ingredients—lychees, red fruit preserves, and blueberries. It is a little messy, but it's an easy garnish to construct.
This garnish idea came with the mad eye martini, which is a brilliant blue, fruit-filled vodka martini that is excellent for many occasions beyond Halloween. When you add this skewered eyeball, the drink takes a sinister turn and really comes into the spirit of the holiday. It looks great on any cocktail or nonalcoholic drink and is sure to get the attention of all your costumed guests.
You can make the garnishes an hour or so before a party, and even the night before if you freeze them, but don't prep them too much farther in advance. Once you get your system down, the process goes pretty quickly; a can holds about 20 to 25 lychees and all the garnishes can be made in less than an hour.
Gather the ingredients and tools.
Strain the lychee to drain off the syrup or juice; rinse if packed in syrup. The lychee has a membranous feel and they're hollow so they're a little slippery to work with when wet. It's good to let them dry out for at least 30 minutes.
Rinse the blueberries and pick out a few that will fit into the hole of the lychee.
Canned lychees have a hole in both ends; choose the easiest one to work with when creating the eyeball innards. Using a small, flat tool, carefully fill the hollow lychee with preserves, taking care not to tear the delicate white flesh.
Gently insert one blueberry into the hole, allowing the preserves to ooze out of the sides. Be careful not to go too far or your berry will be lost.
Once the berry is in place, use a toothpick to spread the preserves over the lychee, painting the veins of an eyeball. Make any adjustments to the berry and preserves until you get the look you want.
Gently poke a cocktail skewer into the back of the eyeball. Set the eyeball aside and continue building as many as you need.
Garnish drinks by resting the skewer on the glass rim. Serve and enjoy!
What Are the Best Tools to Fill the Lychee?
The lychee flesh is delicate, so you'll need a small tool to fill it. The best options are the scoop end of a seafood fork and a small and inexpensive artist's palette knife (available at craft and art stores). Tiny knives and spoons will work, as will a small icing spatula. In a pinch, use the smallest spoon you have to scoop the filling into the lychee, then poke it into the fruit with a skewer, chopstick, or toothpick.
How Far in Advance Can the Lychee Eyeballs Be Made?
This is not a garnish that you can prepare too early. After a few hours, the white lychee will soak up the preserves, turning the flesh purple—it's a gruesome effect on its own but not quite as neat. To preserve the look, place them in a single layer in the freezer for no more than 1 day. The eyeballs can also be frozen into ice cube trays that will float in drinks (they don't float on their own). Another (considerably cleaner) option is to skip the preserves and simply fit blueberries into the lychee; cover them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Lychee is a popular little fruit in Asian cuisine and it should be easy to find at your local international food market. Supermarkets with a good Asian food selection may have them and, of course, they're available online.
- While you can find the fresh fruit, it's important to peel and pit the lychee carefully so the flesh remains intact you have a small hole on each end. Canned lychee is much easier to work with for this project.
- Pick up a can or two more than you think you will need. The fruit is sometimes damaged in the canning process and you'll have extra available if any tear.
- The red fruit preserves or jam create the bloody vein part of the eyeball. Any red fruit will work; red raspberry has a dark red look, and strawberry and cherry are good choices, too.
- Making this garnish is pretty messy; have a wet washcloth nearby to wipe your hands.