Just because times may be tough doesn't mean you need to skimp out on fancy hooch and late summer cocktails, especially with an upcoming season of "Mad Men" on the way. So in the 'sprit' of leaving kitchen renovations to the pros, I present to you a DIY kitchen project you surely won't screw up on!
What you will need:
* Vodka (the cheap stuff from the bottom shelf)
* Cucumber (english)
* Lychees (fresh or canned)
* Glass jar with lid
* White cranberry juice (but red will do)
* Cocktail shaker
* Martini glasses
So if you didn't already know, I am from Hawaii, a.k.a. "the Aloha State", home to beautiful beachfront hotels serving cocktails such as the Mai Tai, Tropical Itch & the famous Blue Hawaii (the latter of which no self-respecting Kama'aina would ever be caught drinking) However, if you venture out of Waikiki and visit a non-tourist restaurant or bar, you will find that one of the more popular cocktails is the Lychee Martini -- and today I am going to show you my personal take on this favored local drink.
drink these in secret, if you must ...
So I was thinking earlier about how I would describe the taste of a Lychee to someone who has never tried one before ... I would have to say is that it is a subtly flavored lightly sweetened fruit, with a very delicate texture, perfume, and taste. Other than that I really cannot describe it, nor can I compare it to any other fruit. The best I can come up with is that it tastes like a very pale lavender; not the herb, but the color. (If you are reading this and can describe the taste of a lychee better than that, then please by all means hit up the comment section below and let the rest of the world know!)
Lychee trees can be found locally here in Hawaii, and I have seen them growing in California. Native to China, the fruits are protected by a thick, red, leathery shell which must be peeled, and are in season from May to early October. If you are unable to find fresh lychee where you live, visit a specialty or Asian grocery store, and you are sure to find them year-round in the canned fruit section. Or, if like me, you don't enjoy peeling lychees, then canned is definitely the way to go!
The infused cucumber will add a slightly earthy, exotic, fresh kick to the lychee vodka that I think nicely balances the resulting cocktail, and makes it a little more masculine -- however if you choose to leave it out and only use lychee, that's fine too!
Ok, now to begin: start by slicing the cucumber in even slices, about enough to fill up half your jar. Then peel the lychees (if fresh) and remove the seed in the middle of the white fleshly center. Make sure all of the peel is removed as well as the stem before placing the fruit into the jar.
If using the canned lychees, remove all but a few of them from the syrup (reserve the syrup), and add them into your jar, leaving a little bit of room near the top of the jar.
Now comes the hard part: open the bottle of cheap vodka and pour on top of fruit. Close the lid and stick in the freezer. That's it. :)
You want to keep the jar in the freezer, taking it out every day to give it a good shake and check on it's progress, usually for about a week. There is no exact science involved, and I usually declare it's ready when it smells good to me (i.e. a strong fragrance of lychee and cucumber, upon opening). Then strain the liquid into a bowl, dump the lychee and cucumber, rinse the jar and pour the liquid back in, and store your infused vodka in the freezer.
You may be thinking, "What?!? I have to wait a whole week? After peeling all those damn lychees?!?" Remember the lychees & syrup I told you to set aside? Instant gratification! Take your cocktail shaker and add in your remaining lychees & about two spoonfuls of the reserved syrup, to taste (if using the fresh, add a spoonful of sugar). Muddle the lychees with a spoon, then add a lot of ice and about 4 oz. of cranberry juice and 2 oz. of vodka (or more) and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. You want the ice to continue to crush the fruit to release the lychee flavor.
Strain the now milky white cocktail into two martini glasses, serve and garnish with either a slice of cucumber on the rim, a lychee, or for added sweetness drop a maraschino cherry on the bottom of the glass.
ahhh ... the sun has set, what a nice time for a cocktail ...
A variation could be substituting lemon rind for the cucumber, or eliminate the lychee altogether and go for a lemon-cucumber infusion instead ... and after reading the Jamaica Hibiscus Tea post from yesterday, I am thinking a lychee-hibiscus infusion is in the near future!
Remember to drink responsibly and please, please, please, don't drink & drive :)
Aloha, and feel free to stop by our blog sometime!