Bubbly Lychee Soda Should Be Your New Go-To Refreshment

Bored of "fruity" flavored drinks? Your regular fruit basket might be to blame. Switch it up with lychee — the citrus-rosewater-strawberry berry of your wildest gastronomic dreams. If you haven't worked with lychee before, it's a small oblong fruit roughly two inches in diameter, glossy and firm like a grape, but meatier. Lychee is encased in a characteristic red, bumpy peel, for which the lychee fruit is also known by the adorable alias "alligator strawberry." Luckily, even though the rough exterior is pretty thick, it's wicked easy to peel off. Inside, the ample fruit has a sweet, floral, slightly acidic flavor, and fragrant flesh with a translucent milky white color. If you're working with fresh lychee, remove the husk and stone, similar to pitting a cherry.

Lychee fruit (also called a "lychee nut" or "lychee berry") is indigenous to China but also grows in tropical climate regions of the U.S. like Florida and Hawaii. But, for the easiest, year-round sampling of the fruit's complex, delicious flavor, fizzy lychee soda belongs on your radar. The light bubbly texture and mild fruity taste make lychee soda a delicious sipper to shake up your RTD bottled bevy game. Lychee-flavored carbonated soft drinks can be ordered online from various retailers or found in many pan-Asian grocery stores or specialty Japanese markets. Popular brands include Calpico, Shirakiku Ramune, and Sanzo, and the products range from light and fizzy to thick, carbonated, and milky.

Sip it solo or use it to build a carbonated cocktail

More adults are looking for alternatives to alcoholic beverages for social drinking, lychee might be just the complex, mature-tasting ingredient your mocktails have been missing. Just slam together equal parts lychee juice and lemon-lime soda in a highball glass (bonus points if you garnish with a lemon wedge, grapefruit wheel, whole lychee fruit, or edible flower). Some fresh grated ginger would be delicious here, too. You could also add a splash of lychee soda to a glass of iced citron tea marmalade for a refreshing floral kick.

For a more complex mocktail, muddle a few overripe white peach slices in the bottom of a stemless wine glass. Then, pour in some grapefruit or calamansi juice (with-pulp is ideal for a richer mouthfeel, but isn't necessary). Top that with canned roasted coconut water, coconut milk, and a generous slug of lychee soda to finish. Garnish with an orange twist and a few grates of fresh orange zest to serve. This drink is perfect for sipping poolside, after dinner, or during a slow porch afternoon.

You could also use lychee soda as a mixer in building other cocktails, like a fizzy lychee margarita with tequila and lime juice. Maybe you've noticed a lychee martini on the menu at your go-to sushi restaurant; it's easy to recreate at home with two parts lychee soda, one part flavorless (or raspberry) vodka, and one part dry botanical gin.