I've been eyeing lychees at my local natural food store for weeks waiting for the right time to pick some up and play around. I have to admit the idea of using lychees in cocktails makes me do an eye roll. I spent some time years ago working in an establishment with a Pan-Asian inspired food and bar program. The sight of a large can with preserved and over sugary fruits pouring out of it and being muddled into martinis gives me chills, and not the good kind. I rarely have come across them fresh, which is why I was so excited and intrigued to use them in a drink.
The lychee has a rough, red, leathery skin, and on the inside is a white creamy, almost grape-like fruit. It's a tropical fruit that originated in China, and is known for its sweet and fragrant flavor. If you can get your hands on some (they're in season from May till June or July) I think you will be surprised and delighted by the taste and texture of the fruit. They also contain and impressive array of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
I thought the aroma of the lychee paired best with the botanicals and citrus notes of Gin, along with the beautifully fragrant and complexity of lavender. My Lavender Lychee Collins is easy to make at home, and is a refreshing boozy take on a lemonade, which means you can keep the booze out as well for your friends that are not imbibing, just double up on your citrus and sweetener.
Lavender Lychee Collins
2 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Lavender Simple Syrup
6 Peeled & Pitted Lychees
In your tin add your lemon juice, lavender syrup, and 4 peeled & pitted lychees, give it a light muddle. Add your Gin, I chose a London Dry like Beefeater, add ice, shake, and strain into a highball glass over ice. Top with soda and garnish your cocktail with remaining lychees and a lavender sprig.
Lavender Simple Syrup (1:1)
- Combine water, sugar, and lavender blossoms in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let syrup steep, about 30 minutes.
- Pour syrup into a sterilized glass jar or bottle through a mesh strainer to remove blossoms; let cool.