The lychee martini (also known as "lichitini" or "lycheetini") is a beautiful, delicate, and unusual cocktail that features the sweet taste of lychee fruit. It is a delicious vodka martini and very easy to make. Mix vodka, lychee liqueur or syrup, and lime juice to make your cocktail in less than five minutes.
Our thorough recipe also offers you the instructions to make lychee liqueur and lychee syrup (you only need one or the other), even though you can buy lychee liqueur. But because these can be hard to find—brands like Soho, Bols, and Kwai Feh are available—you can DIY with our recipe. Be mindful that making a liqueur at home takes a minimum of four weeks, whereas the syrup takes less than an hour.
If you are unfamiliar with this supersweet fruit, first try a whole fruit on its own to get a taste for its natural flavor. Lychees have an interesting sour bite and taste a bit like a strawberry mixed with watermelon and grapes. Their sweetness and tartness make a nice contrast to the sweetness of a liqueur, and together they make a refreshing and delicious cocktail.
- For the Lychee Liqueur:
- 2 cups/380 grams lychee fruit
- 1 lime (zested)
- 1 1/2 cups/375 milliliters vodka
- 1 cup simple syrup
- For the Lychee Syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup lychee fruit
- For the Cocktail:
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces lychee liqueur (or lychee syrup)
- Dash of lime juice (fresh)
- Garnish: pitted lychee
Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cocktail is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and assembly.
Make Lychee Liqueur
Time is the biggest factor with a homemade lychee liqueur, but the result is worth the wait. It will take about one month to finish.
This recipe makes about 16 ounces or a little more than a pint of liqueur. It's best to start with this smaller batch until you perfect the recipe to your taste. Take notes on any adjustments you make, and once you have it where you like it, scale it up to make a larger batch.
Gather the ingredients.
Peel and cut the lychee fruits in half. Add the pieces to a glass jar that has a capacity of at least 16 ounces. Add the zest of 1 lime, then fill the jar with the vodka.
Seal the jar and give it a good shake.
Store in a cool, dark place for four weeks, shaking it every couple of days. Give it a taste test after two weeks, then again a week later to see how the flavor is progressing. Four weeks will give it a good flavor, but it might take more to get to your ideal flavor.
Once the vodka is flavored to your liking, heavily strain the fruit from the vodka through a cheesecloth or a very clean kitchen towel. Be sure to squeeze all of the liquid from the lychee.
Strain again to ensure all of the liquid is removed from the fruit. During this final straining, you can filter it directly into the bottle that will store the liqueur: Use a funnel and place the cheesecloth inside.
Add 1 cup of simple syrup to the bottle, tighten the lid, and shake vigorously. Store the finished liqueur in the refrigerator where it will keep for about three months.
Or Make Lychee Syrup
Lychee syrup is very easy to make and is a great substitute for the lychee liqueur. It is no different than any other flavored syrup. You'll simply use lychee fruits for the flavor. It takes less than an hour from start to finish, and the finished syrup can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of syrup. It can be adjusted by increasing the sugar and water quantities in an equal manner.
Gather the ingredients.
Combine 1 cup each of sugar and water in a saucepan.
Bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the lychee fruit, reduce the heat, and cover.
Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
Strain the fruit from the syrup and pour it into a glass bottle with a tight-sealing lid. It will keep in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.
Make the Lychee Martini
Gather the ingredients.
Drop a pitted lychee fruit into the glass for a garnish.
Serve and enjoy.
Is There a Quicker Way of Making Lychee Liqueur?
- For a shortcut liqueur, skip the one-month infusion and simply add 1 cup of lychee syrup to 375 milliliters of vodka. Add more vodka or syrup to taste.
Lychee Liqueur Tips
- Fresh lychees are often available in the summer months and take a little preparation. You will need to peel the lychee and remove the stone. Only the fleshy white fruit is needed. To make this year-round, use canned lychee fruit. Buy it online, check the international aisle of upscale supermarkets, or go to grocery stores specializing in Asian produce.
- For the finished liqueur, you will need a bottle or jar that holds at least 3 cups. It's a great way to recycle 750-milliliters liquor bottles.
- Test your liqueur after mixing in the syrup. It should be slightly sweet and have a soft lychee flavor. If it's not sweet enough, add more syrup in small amounts. Shake and test it with each new addition until it suits your taste.
- If you find that the liqueur is lacking both sweetness and fruit flavor, make a lychee syrup and add it instead of plain syrup.
- Use your liqueur in margaritas, daiquiris, mojitos, and Champagne, gin, and rum cocktails.
You can also make a lychee martini with a lychee-flavored vodka, such as the one offered by Kai Vodka. A few other brands produce it as well, though these tend to come and go on the market. You can also do your own lychee vodka infusion using the liqueur recipe without the syrup.
- For the martini with lychee vodka, begin by pouring 2 ounces of lychee vodka, 3/4 ounce simple syrup (plain or lychee), and 1/4 ounce lime juice. Shake it up and see what you think. If needed, make adjustments to any of the ingredients to get your desired flavor.