If you're in the mood for a cocktail that's both elegant and exotic, then the Lychee Gin Martini is the perfect pick! This delicious drink combines the floral notes of lychee with the botanicals of gin, creating a sip that's as sophisticated as it is delicious. Not to mention, easy to make at home!
This Lychee Martini is super versatile. Its sweet fruity lychee flavors are perfect for spring or summertime, and you can dress it up or down depending on the occasion!
It would be perfect for Valentine's Day, a date night or even at a swanky party.
Looking for more lychee flavors? Check out this Lychee Mojito Mocktail recipe (and just add rum if you want more of a kick).
If you're in the mood for more Valentine's Day drinks, try out this delicious Pink Whitney Lemonade Martini cocktail, the violet Water Lily cocktail with Empress gin, or the naturally pink Prickly Pear Margarita.
What are lychees?
The lychee (also spelled litchi) is a small, round fruit native to China. Lychees have a rough, pink-red skin that peels away to reveal a juicy, translucent white flesh.
Lychees have a delicate, sweet, and slightly tart flavor that is a little bit like a cross between a grape and a pear, with hints of citrus and rose flavors.
Fresh lychees will come in the skin, and you need to peel them and take out the pit. Canned lychees, which are a lot easier to find in the US, already have the pit taken out. They usually are packed in a syrup, which is great because the syrup can be used in cocktails too!
Here are the ingredients you'll need for this lychee martini recipe:
- Gin - I used The Botanist gin here, which works really well. Either a botanical gin or a dry gin would really work great here to complement the fruit flavors.
- Lychee liqueur - Giffard Litchi-Li is the liqueur I used. It's definitely on the sweet side with a more floral taste, but it does give a nice blush pink tint to the drink. Another brand to try is Soho Lychee Liqueur, which has a flavor that's more true to the fruit.
- Lychee puree - Real brand lychee puree is a great pick here. It has a lot of sweetness, so can be used as a syrup too.
- Dry vermouth - the vermouth in this drink brings just a touch of bitter flavors to counteract all of the sweetness. I used Poli Gran Bassano vermouth, or Dolin dry vermouth is another great choice.
- Whole lychees (for garnish) - you can use pitted fresh lychees or canned lychees (I used Dynasty brand canned lychees).
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Gin - If you're not a gin fan, feel free to substitute it with vodka or citrus flavored vodka. Both work beautifully with the floral lychee.
- Liqueur - If you don't have any lychee liqueur, you can use lychee syrup, or a bit of simple syrup with a splash of lime juice for a hint of citrus. Increase either the gin or vermouth in this case, and definitely use the lychee puree.
- Lychee puree - if you're using canned lychee, you can use the lychee syrup from the can in place of the puree. Or, just make your own puree by blending the contents of one lychee can, including the syrup. Keep the puree in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Vermouth - you can use a couple of dashes of fruit-based bitters instead of vermouth. Dashfire lemon bitters or Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters would both work well here.
- Garnish - if you can't find whole lychee fruit, try garnishing with a fresh strawberry or a twist of lemon.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Empress Lychee Martini - use Empress 1908 gin in this drink to add a pop of color. This is especially cute if you're drinking these on Valentine's Day!
- Elderflower Lychee Martini - sub out the liqueur for St Germain elderflower liqueur to add an extra layer of sweet, tangy, and floral flavors.
- Make it a Highball - Instead of serving this in a stemmed glass, serve it over ice in a tall Collins glass. Top it off with plain seltzer, or Sanzo brand lychee sparkling water.
- Non-alcoholic version - if you're avoiding alcohol, try these options:
- Strawberry syrup - swap out the lychee puree for some strawberry syrup. This will give the drink a more pink color, and bring in some extra fruity and berry flavors. You can even use a fresh strawberry in between two lychee fruits for the garnish!
To make this cocktail recipe, you'll need a few bar tools to make things easier. Of course, a jigger to measure ingredients is a must.
I used a cocktail mixing glass and a bar spoon to mix this one, but you could also use a cocktail shaker if you don't have a mixing glass.
For the cocktail glass, you can use a martini glass, or go for a fancy coupe glass like the one in the photos (I used these Jean Harlow coupe glasses).
You'll also need a cocktail pick, or a long toothpick for the garnish.
Start out by adding all of your ingredients to your cocktail mixing glass. Add in the gin and lychee puree.
Then, add in the lychee liqueur and vermouth.
Fill your mixing glass with ice.
If you're using a heavy-bottomed mixing glass like me, use a bar spoon to stir everything together for about 30 seconds.
If you're using a cocktail shaker, seal it up and shake vigorously about 15-20 times.
Strain the drink into the serving glass.
Add your whole lychees to a cocktail pick, and rest it on top of the glass as a garnish. Serve and enjoy!
Hint: If you can, chill all of your ingredients for about a half hour before making the drink. You can chill the serving glass too!
If you're finding this martini to be too sweet, you can either cut back on the puree, or add in some bitters to counteract the sweetness. Lemon or grapefruit bitters would both work great in this recipe!
Lychee Gin Martini
- Add the gin, lychee puree, lychee liqueur and dry vermouth to a cocktail mixing glass (or to a cocktail shaker.)
- Fill the glass with ice.
- Stir with a long bar spoon for about 30 seconds (or shake 15-20 times if you're using a shaker).
- Strain the drink into your serving glass.
- Add the lychee to a cocktail pick, and rest it on top of the glass for an optional garnish.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Chill all of your ingredients, including the serving glass, for about 30 minutes before making this for the best drink experience.