Better Lychee Cocktails: Alternatives to the Lychee Martini

We’ve drunk our way through nearly every lychee cocktail recipe under the sun, and we’ve found 11 solid lychee cocktails good enough to make the cut to get into the Cocktail Party app.
Royal 75
Orange bitters, Gin, Lychee liqueur...
White Tie & Tiara
Rose water, Citrus vodka, Lychee...
Lychee Rose Bellini
Lychee, Agave nectar, Rose water...
Magnificent Lady
Gin, Lychee liqueur, Lemon...
Sake Sangria
Orange, Blackberry, Sake...
This Little Lychee of Mine
Gin, White wine apéritif, Lychee...
Lychee Lani
Light rum, Coconut rum, Lychee syrup...
Gulangyu Breeze
Vodka, Lychee liqueur, Lychee...
Silk Sheets
Citrus vodka, Elderflower liqueur, Lychee...
Lotus Dragon
Vodka, Lychee, Orange...
Mystic Lamp
Aged rum, Lychee, Orange...

The lychee is a queen among fruits: delicate, floral, ethereal, delicious. So it’s a shame that the most popular lychee cocktail is the Lychee Martini – an acrid, dated drink with none of the charm of the real fruit. We found it so unpleasant, we couldn’t add it to Cocktail Party. We knew there had to be better options – and we found plenty!

Lychee puree, either fresh or off-the-shelf, is a great way to get the true flavor of lychee into cocktails – and it imparts a luscious, velvety texture. The Silk Sheets amps up the floral notes with elderflower liqueur, while the Sake Sangria takes advantage of the body and fruitiness for a killer no-wine sangria riff.

Lychee syrup is another great way to impart a concentrated lychee flavor into cocktails. We like it best in the Lychee Lani, an awesome tiki cocktail with coconut and orgeat flavors.

Lychee juice has a delicate flavor that can be difficult to balance with other strong flavors, but the Lotus Dragon uses that softness to make for a beautiful riff on the classic Screwdriver. This Little Lychee of Mine amps up the fragrant floral notes of lychee juice with a touch of rose water, resulting in a perfect gem of a gin cocktail. The White Tie & Tiara takes lychee’s florality in a different direction, adding jasmine syrup for a rich bouquet of scent and flavor. The Mystic Lamp plays on the exotic flavors of lychee with rum and almond extract, a surprisingly tasty combo. The Lychee Rose Bellini offers a sophisticated recipe featuring rose water and sparkling rosé wine.

Lychee liqueur is typically the villain in lychee cocktails; most brands are sickly-sweet and retain little of the charm of the real thing. We’ve had great results with Giffard’s Litchi-Li, and we’ve heard good things about the versions from Marie Brizard and Drillaud. The Gulangyu Breeze is a great way to test out the flavor of a new bottle of lychee liqueur, and the Magnificent Lady is a perfect showpiece for the magic of the lychee-rose flavor combo. For a crisp, clean lychee flavor, give the Royal 75 a shot – gin and dry champagne allow lychee liqueur to show its elegant, serious side.

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