Lychee martini on bar counter

Canned Lychee Martini Recipe: A Refreshing Cocktail Option

Martini trends have come and gone, but fruity concoctions will forever be the ones we can’t let go of. The juicy flavors of fruit juices and syrups brighten up clean-cut vodka or gin, making the stuffy cocktail taste refreshing. Lychee is a favored fruit for the job; the sweet flavor is a godsend for cocktails, especially when using canned lychees for your at-home martinis.

Native to China, lychees are fleshy stone fruits with a floral flavor that takes a tropical turn. What sets the prickly fruits apart is their slightly tart, yet very sweet taste that resembles both a strawberry and watermelon. Peeling them isn’t so bad if you’re just eating one or two, but if you need several to make juice for a lychee martini, pick up the canned version at your local Asian market. This way the fruits come peeled, and packed with juice or syrup that serves as the crux of the cocktail — no blending or straining required.

Make your martini like normal, with the addition of 1 ounce of lychee syrup for every 2 ounces of vodka or gin (although this can be adjusted based on how fruity you want it). The drink can be shaken or stirred based on your preference, but Look recipe developer Jessica Morone chooses to stir when making a classic lychee martini so it comes out stronger and “spirit-forward.” With a particularly thick syrup, however, you’ll want to shake the martini to create air bubbles to make the cocktail lighter.

Use vodka or gin and garnish your martini with lychees from the can

Two lychee martinis with lychees

In her recipe, Morone opts for vodka over gin, with the crisp spirit standing back as lychee takes the lead. However, you can go with gin if you’d prefer something different. The spirit is made from juniper berries, which give it a citrus-forward, piney flavor. The brightness of gin is akin to lychee, with the woodsy tinge grounding the syrupy sweet fruit.

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Whichever one you pick, just know that your lychee martini isn’t complete without an extra punch from lime juice. Lime’s bitter, mouth-puckering sourness has the innate ability to reign in lychee’s sweetness while also highlighting it, giving the martini a more refined taste overall. Another thing that’s non-negotiable is a dry vermouth. Many modern martinis are made with blanc vermouth, a more honeyed take on the spirit that leans too far into lychee syrup’s inherent sweetness. The more stringent flavor of a dry vermouth is exactly what you need to prevent your martini from becoming too saccharine.

To garnish the cocktail, stick two or three of the canned lychees onto a toothpick and pop them into the martini glass. For a drink that’s a tad more herbaceous, add fresh basil leaves in between the lychees.

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