The lychee martini (or lichitini) is a beautiful, delicate, and exotic cocktail that features the sweet taste of lychee fruit. It is a delicious vodka martini and very easy to make.
If you are unfamiliar with this super sweet fruit, 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. It is a nice contrast to the sweetness of a liqueur.
This martini recipe was originally written for a lychee liqueur. These can be hard to find, though brands like Soho, Bols, and Kwai Feh are available. If you cannot find a commercial liqueur or simply enjoy a DIY project, you can also make your own lychee liqueur or syrup. The syrup will get a lychee martini in your hands much faster, but the liqueur is fun to create as well.
- For the Lychee Liqueur:
- 1 1/2 cups/375 mL vodka
- 2 cups lychee fruit
- 1 lime (zested)
- 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 the 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 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.
Cut the lychee fruits in half. Add the pieces to a glass jar that's at least 16 ounces. Add the zest of one lime, then fill with 375 milliliters of vodka.
Seal the jar and give it a good shake.
Store in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks, shaking it every couple of days. Give it a taste test after 2 weeks, then again a week later to see how the flavor is progressing. It may take longer than four weeks to get your ideal flavor.
Once the vodka is flavored to your liking, strain the fruit from the vodka through cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze all of the liquid from the lychee.
Strain again to ensure all of the syrup 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, tighten the lid, and shake vigorously. Store the finished liqueur in the refrigerator where it will keep for about 3 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 equally.
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 2 to 3 weeks.
Make the Lychee Martini
Gather the ingredients.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the vodka, lychee liqueur or syrup, and lime juice.
Drop a lychee into the glass for a garnish.
Serve and enjoy!
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. You can also use canned lychee fruit and make this year-round. Many international markets carry canned lychee.
- 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-milliliter liquor bottles.
- After mixing in the syrup, test your liqueur. It should be slightly sweetened and have a soft lychee flavor. If it is 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 it is lacking both sweetness and fruit flavor, make a lychee syrup and add it instead of plain syrup.
- For a shortcut liqueur, skip the 1-month infusion and simply add 1 cup of lychee syrup to 375 milliliters vodka. Add more vodka or syrup to taste.
You can also make a lychee martini with a lychee-flavored vodka, such as that 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.