One of my favorite Hawaii flavors is lychee. The stone fruit has a soft, sweet, floral, subtly grape-y texture and flavor and is the perfect snack accompaniment for long, hot, sandy beach days. It also, I discovered, makes for a killer martini.
The other day while hunting for a particular wine at our corner liquor store (all the love for the Date Street Bev Mart!), I found the prettiest lychee liqueur. I instantly dropped all wine plans and instead made plans for creating a lychee martini. My first attempt was FAR too sweet — lychee liqueur is very floral, and too cloying as the only (thus a very strong) flavor. Disappointed but not daunted, when I found mint and Meyer lemons the next week at the grocery store, I screamed YES! (in my head). Meyer lemons are kind of a cross between an orange and a lemon, so I knew there would be just enough tart to balance out the sweet of the lychee without being mouth-puckering, and I loved the idea of a hint of mint to freshen it all up summer-style. Thus, that magical Sunday, my second favorite martini was born.
(My first favorite martini is the classic gin martini, up with a twist, stirred [don’t bruise the gin, Bond!]. Tied for second with the lychee martini may be The Professor from Mai Thai restaurant in Boise, but they haven’t had it on their drink menu for years and I am deeply sad that I never took a picture of the ingredients so I could attempt to recreate it. Regretz, I haz them.)
If you’re looking for a martini that goes down smooth and has a hint of sweet tropical beach days, this might be the drink is for you.
Lychee Citrus Martini with a Meyer lemon twist
1.5 – 2 oz vodka
3 mint leaves, crushed
0.5 oz Lychee liqueur (I recommend Giffard Lichi-Li — so pink!)
A few drops of juice squeezed fresh from a Meyer lemon
Meyer lemon twist and mint leaves for garnish
Add vodka to a shaker. Press mint leaves between your fingers to activate the oil and drop in vodka. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add ice cubes, squeeze in juice from a Meyer lemon, to taste (I enjoy juice from about 1/4 of a lemon), and pour in the lychee liqueur. Stir, or cap and shake, for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with twist of Meyer lemon peel and a couple mint leaves.