Classic Lychee Martini Recipe

Fruit-flavored martinis have been a thing at least since the '90s, heyday of the appletini, but a lychee martini is something a little less familiar. Recipe developer Jessica Morone says this drink is "light and fruity and tropical," something she feels makes it "the perfect cocktail for the ... spring/summer season," but she does note that since it's made with canned fruit it can actually be a year-round thing.

In order to concoct this cocktail you will need to purchase a can of lychees, something you'll be able to find at an Asian grocery store if you can't find them at your usual supermarket. These fruits, says Morone, "have a sweet, floral flavor that some people describe as a cross between a grape and a watermelon." You'll only need a few of them, plus a little bit of the juice, to make a lychee martini, but Morone points out, "You can use the leftover fruit in lots of ways." Some of her suggestions include adding them to fruit salad, making lychee jam, or using them to garnish iced tea.

Gather the ingredients for a classic lychee martini

While Morone tells us, "I used canned lychees and canned lychee juice in this drink," she does say that you could use fresh lychees to flavor a homemade simple syrup if you wish. In addition to the lychees (both fruit and juice), you'll also need ice, vodka, dry vermouth, and lime juice.

This martini is stirred, not shaken

Combine all of the ingredients except for the lychee fruit and gently stir to chill the drink. Why are we stirring, not shaking, as we do in so many cocktail recipes? It's because the martini is meant to be what foodies (or "drinkies," as it were) call "spirit-forward," meaning they're meant to taste as boozy as possible. Shaking a martini over ice tends to dilute it since agitating the ice will cause it to melt a bit.

Strain the ice out of the drink

Strain the drink into a chilled glass. A martini glass would be nice if you have such a thing, but your second choice could be a coupe or any other stemmed glass. Failing that, a rocks glass will work.

Garnish the cocktail with canned lychees

Take a toothpick or cocktail pick and stab it through two lychees, or even three if it's a long pick. Stick that in the glass as a garnish, then your lychee martini is ready to drink. If you feel it's a little too monochromatic, though, you could also add a twist of lime, something Morone recommends as " a really easy additional and colorful garnish."

Can you use gin instead of vodka?

This martini is made with vodka because, as with so many fruity or other flavored martinis, it is thought that this relatively neutral spirit will allow the other ingredients in the cocktail to come to the forefront. That being said, it's perfectly acceptable to make this drink with gin if this is your chosen tipple or you simply prefer a more complex blend of flavors in your cocktail. If you do choose to make the drink with gin, one of the brands with more floral notes might be preferable to a juniper-heavy London Dry type.

There is actually another gin-based lychee drink that is a close cousin to this lychee martini: the lychee gimlet. To make it, you start in the same way as you would for this recipe but you replace the vodka with gin. The amount of lychee syrup remains the same as well, as do the canned lychees used as a garnish, but you skip the vermouth and double the amount of lime juice. This makes for a cocktail that's slightly more sour and less spirit-forward than if you were to simply substitute gin for the vodka in our lychee martini, but it has a fairly similar flavor profile and can be served in the same style of glass.

How strong is this drink?

This lychee martini is somewhat on the boozy side since a single cocktail contains 2 ½ ounces of alcohol between the vodka and the vermouth. This is somewhat tempered by the fact that vermouth has slightly less than half the alcohol of vodka, coming in at between 14 to 22% ABV to vodka's 40%. The addition of lychee syrup and lime juice, as well as the small amount of water added by melting ice while the drink is mixed, combine to take the final ABV down to around 20% ABV. This means that the cocktail has a similar level of alcohol to that of straight-up vermouth. Perhaps a better comparison is to a standard table wine, which comes in around 12% ABV. Drinking this four-ounce cocktail would be roughly equivalent to drinking two similarly-sized glasses of wine.

After consuming this lychee martini, a woman weighing 125 pounds would have a blood alcohol content of 0.051%, which is above the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in the state of Utah. While other states currently set the limit at 0.08%, 0.05% is considered sufficiently impaired that some of them are also considering lowering their limit to this level. For safety's sake (your own and everyone else's), it's best either to consume this drink at home or plan to catch a Lyft (or an Uber) home.

What are some other fruity martini recipes I should try?

Our lychee martini recipe is unusual for a fruity variant on the classic cocktail in that it does contain the same ingredients as a standard vodka martini, that being the eponymous spirit and the vermouth. Other fruity "martinis," however, bear little similarity to the original apart from the fact that they're typically served in a martini glass to lend the name some credence. One easy fruit-flavored martini is the lemon drop, which combines vodka with lemon juice, simple syrup, and an orange liqueur such as Cointreau in a sugar-rimmed glass. Another, even simpler one is the three-ingredient French martini which is a mixture of vodka, pineapple juice, and Chambord.

To make an elderflower pear martini, you'll need pear vodka, elderflower liqueur, pear juice, and just a squeeze of fresh lemon to offset the sweetness from the liqueur and the fruit. A pornstar martini — which, surprisingly, is a late '90s creation unrelated to the embarrassingly-named shooters so popular in the '80s — is a more elaborate cocktail consisting of passion fruit pulp, passion fruit liqueur, vanilla vodka, and lime juice and served with a shooter of prosecco purportedly for palate-cleansing purposes. Finally, we have the key lime pie martini, a decidedly dessert-like drink that combines vanilla vodka, coconut rum, key lime juice, cream of coconut, and simple syrup and serves up this sugary concoction in a glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers.

Classic Lychee Martini Recipe
5 from 73 ratings
Infuse your martini with the sweet, floral flavor of lychee fruit with this cocktail recipe the next time you're making drinks for your friends.
Prep Time
Cook Time
lychee martinis in wine glasses
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) juice from a can of lychees
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 canned lychees
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the lychees and stir to chill the drink.
  2. Strain the drink into a chilled glass.
  3. Stick a toothpick through the lychees and use them to garnish the drink.
Calories per Serving 177
Total Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Total Sugars 7.6 g
Sodium 11.5 mg
Protein 0.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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