Heartichoke: The Perfect Lychee Martini

Photo by Jen

‘Perfect’ is such a temperamental, evolving term, and I certainly wouldn’t be using it if my sister didn’t keep lychee juice in her fridge for her precious lychee martinis. Our stop into Verlaine on the lower east side, years ago, for $5 lychee martinis during happy hour takes the inspiration, and we almost repeated it for old times’ sake on my hiatus last month. Almost, almost, because they are so much more fun to make as a tropical twist when you’re trying to prepare for a hurricane.

This version is now tried and true, and the first run was so delightful that we decided to make a pitcher’s worth for three.

Note: I have a habit of picking up exotic juices at the Asian supermarket, and my sister is clearly obsessed with boxed lychee juice, but for those with a little less devotion, you can just as easily substitute another fruit juice for the lychee. I’ve also made this with fresh lime juice, which adds a sweet zing.

While you want to pick up a can of lychees in syrup (and could easily mix it up with rambutan) I would not recommend substituting additional syrup for the juice, as tempting as it might be.

And I may be on a budget, but I do recommend a clean tasting vodka – stay away from Smirnoffs and anything bottom shelf, if you can. I currently have a patient bottle of 360 Vodka on my home bar.

The Perfect Lychee Martini

Serves 2


  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2-3 ounces lychee or other fruit juice > simply use less if you enjoy your vodka; more if it’s shitty
  • 1 ounce lychee syrup > reserved from a can
  • ice

You will also need:

  • cocktail shaker
  • canned lychees
  • two chilled glasses


Place two or three canned lychees into each glass*, pour the cocktail, and enjoy.

Suggested garnish: canned lychees, sliced ginger, fresh mint

If you’re making a larger quantity in a pitcher, add a bunch of the canned fruit, as well.

*At my sister’s request, the featured cocktail above was ‘extra lychee’.

Our original pitcher was shortly accompanied by….

Dinner: Pad Sie Ew with pan-fried tofu, Spigarello broccoli, carrots, a dark soy & mushroom based sauce and fresh lime

The rice noodles were fresh from a stall in Chinatown, and the intriguing broccoli greens were from the Union Square farmers market. Easily (and enjoyably) the most locally focused meal I cooked at my sister’s in Brooklyn.


Spigarello broccoli from the Union Square Farmers Market, NYC


  1. Another good way to get around the “crappy vodka problem” would be to filter it through a Brita filter. That’s how I’ve always made infusions with oh-so-crappy spirits. Also, lychee martinis sound so, so delicious. I’m pretty sure Barbur World Foods carries the juice, I’ll check it out tomorrow during my lunch escape!

    1. Ooo, I have heard of that but have never done it. Good one! I have no issues using bottom bottom bottom shelf vodka for making liquors and some infusing, but I don’t like the chemical-ness in my mixing. That said, I don’t drink vodka much these days so the bottles take up quite a valued residence.

  2. Stephanie, I’ve definitely seen it at barbur world foods! conveniently, the liquor stoor is just next door… I think it’s definitely time for some lychee martinis. I’ve never thought of the martini. Lychee margaritas are great, too!

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