Lychee happens to be a nightmare ingredient to work with for cocktail bartenders but also a favourite of cocktail drinkers. I was highly against this fruit until I tried it fresh and now I’m quite happy to say “one Lychee Martini please”. Let’s take a closer look at this fruit.
The origin of the fruit in written documentation dates back to 1059 AD in Guangdong and Fujian provinces from China. However it grows across Southeast Asia, India and South Africa. There are many stories of the fruit that tell that it was the delicacy of Chinese Imperial Court for several dynasties. It was first introduced to the West in 1656 by Michal Boym, a Polish Jesuit missionary.
There are many cultivars grown with different names which can be very confusing. This tropical tree bears small edible fruits, and it requires 80 to 112 days to mature. Lychee skin is pink in colour with the texture of crocodile skin. However, it is the sweet juicy fresh flesh with a great perfume-like flavour that humans can’t resist. This aroma is lost once the fruit is canned. Hence we recommend to only use fresh Lychee.
Lychees are mainly served plain, or with ice cream. They are also added to fruit salads, fresh custards and many other desserts as well as in refreshing cocktails and mocktails.
Here is one thirst quencher for a hot weekend afternoon:
3 pears, sliced
2 oranges, sliced
1 lime, sliced
¼ watermelon, cubed
1 handful of mint leaf
2 soup spoons of brown sugar
750 ml of Sauvignon blanc
150 ml vodka
Cut all ingredients and combine them in a large jug. Fill up the jug with ice and pour wine with vodka in it. Stir properly and make sure that sugar is dissolved before serving. Garnish the cup with fresh mint spring, and fruit from the sangria.
Bartender’s note: “Lychee is an incredible ingredient and complements gin, rum and vodka.”