I love lychees (and longans and mangosteens and rambutans).
If you’re not sure what all of those are, you could google them… or better yet, go to your local Asian market, check the produce section, and taste them for yourself. Inside the distinct—and in the case of rambutans, downright bizarre—husks or peels is a translucent, juicy, sweet fruit that will transport you to Southeast Asia.
In countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan, you can easily find these fruits for sale from street vendors. You can also enjoy lychee smoothies, or lychee-flavored “milk tea” milkshakes with boba tapioca bubbles.
In fact, my first instinct when I found fresh lychees (the rarest of treats around here—for sale at Trader Joe’s of all places!) was to smoothie-fy them and toss in some boba. But I already had fresh mint in the house… and we always have limes… you can see where this is headed.
Lychee mojitos might sound like a weird fusion-y blend of SE Asia and the Caribbean, but believe me: it works.
Not that mojitos (or any rum-based cocktails) are a regular occurrence around here… in fact, I have a shaky history with rum, extending back (of course) to my college days.
I used to be embarrassingly into piña coladas. I even went so far as to keep a blender and a mini fridge in my dorm room so I could make piña coladas (you see where the embarrassment factor comes in). Now I find the sweetness of pineapple cloying, so it’s not my favorite drink by a longshot. (It’s possible I haven’t had one since college!)
On top of my diminished fondness for pineapple, let’s just say there was an incident involving clear rum-filled plastic water bottles and a lack of moderation. Rum and I stayed away from each other for a while after that.
There were exceptions of course. Like when I got to travel to Cuba on one of the rare educational visas issued to U.S. citizens (I went with Global Exchange), and the moment I stepped off the bus from the airport and into my hotel lobby, I was handed a mojito (in a tall collins glass that they called a caña) and it was so. good.
(Caña in this case refers to the sugar cane-like shape of the collins or highball glass—not a glass for beer, like in some other Spanish-speaking countries.)
That was probably the day when mojitos shot up nearly as high as gin & tonics in my book.
Adding fresh fruit to mojitos only improves them (in my limited experience). My old roommate in Philadelphia used to make delicious strawberry mojitos all the time. (Or did she just make me one—once—that was so amazing it sticks in my memory…?)
After years of never once purchasing rum or making my own mojitos, a while back I found myself with an excess of Alphonso mangoes and took that as an opportunity to make mango mojitos (which were also pretty delicious).
So that is how I came to have rum in the house along with my lychees, mint, and limes. These mojitos were both spontaneous and inevitable.
The super sweet mango mojitos were nice, but nothing hits the spot quite like the unexpected fruitiness of a lychee, paired with the tart lime juice and fresh, fragrant mint leaves.
The lychees are also fragrant and nutty, with a delightfully chewy, pulpy texture.
Also! Instead of melting watery ice, this time I used whole frozen lychees, peeled (but not pitted) as non-melty ice cubes, and it worked out nicely.
It might be a little gimmicky, but if you have the forethought to stick a handful of lychees in the freezer the night before you whip up these cocktails, then your ice cubes will be round lychee echoes of the drink itself. And if you’re as slow a sipper as I am, they will have defrosted to room temperature right as you’re finishing your drink—just in time to chomp on the somewhat alcoholic bite-sized fruity morsels.
p.s. I’m ahead of the game taking photos of upcoming blog posts right now, so I had some options for this week’s recipe; with my birthday (32!) coming up this Saturday, cocktails somehow seemed the most appropriate.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
(Makes 2 cocktails)
Lychee Syrup Ingredients (makes 4 oz. of syrup, for 2 cocktails):
~ 3-4 lychees, peeled and roughly chopped
~ 6 Tbsp. water
~ 3 Tbsp. sugar
Mojito Ingredients (per cocktail):
~ juice of 1 lime
~ 4-5 fresh mint leaves
~ 2 oz. lychee syrup
~ 1-1½ oz. rum
~ 2 oz. seltzer water (or club soda)
~ additional 3-4 whole frozen lychees per drink in place of ice cubes
How to make it:
1. Make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the chopped lychees, water, and sugar. Bring just to a simmer, then cool to room temperature or chill in the fridge.
2. Once the lychee syrup has cooled, assemble the cocktails: Squeeze the juice of ½ a lime into each glass, then roughly tear up the mint leaves and add to the glasses. Use a muddler (or a pestle) to mash the mint leaves a little to release their flavor.
3. Strain the chopped lychees out from the syrup and add chopped lychees to each glass, muddling those as well, before also adding 2 oz. syrup (half of the syrup) to each glass. (Or add the syrup and chopped fruit at the same time.)
4. Add ice cubes (or frozen lychees, with their stems sliced off and peels removed). Then add 1-1½ oz. rum and 2 oz. seltzer water to each glass. Give each cocktail another good squeeze of fresh lime juice before serving.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
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|The Chinchilla Cocktail + Homemade Ginger Ale||Vietnamese Sweet Avocado Smoothies||Cara Cara Cocktail (Two ways)||Mango Coconut Popsicles|