You don’t need alcohol to make a fancy drink. Need proof? Try this lychee mocktail martini. It’s a non-alcoholic spin on the elegant and delicious lychee martini that’s crisp, fruity, and oh-so-pretty. Plus, it comes together in a snap with a handful of simple ingredients.
Reasons to love this lychee martini
If you’re looking for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink with a nice balance of sweetness and tartness, you’ll love this recipe. The fruity, floral flavor of lychee is complemented by a little bit of lime juice and a lot of chilling with your cocktail shaker.
This mocktail may look fancy, but it’s so easy to make. You don’t need to make any special syrups or liqueurs for this recipe – it can be made from store-bought ingredients in less than 5 minutes.
Plus, although it’s 100% alcohol-free, this mocktail is elegant enough to feel like a special drink. It’s the perfect non-alcoholic option for parties, date nights, or special occasions.
Fun facts about this recipe
Lychee is a fruit that is grown in subtropical areas including China, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Florida. It is native to China and has been an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.
The firm but juicy flesh of lychee has a hard pit in the center and tough skin on the outside. You can buy it fresh, canned, or juiced. In the US, the summer months are the best time to buy fresh lychee. (Since I shot this in the winter, the fresh lychee at my local store was dull in color.) See this post from Tasting Table for more lychee tips and fun facts!
Lychee is a popular fruit in many Asian countries, but it’s less ubiquitous in typical American grocery stores. If you can’t find lychee nectar, juice, or canned lychee at your usual grocery store, check out your local Asian market. If you don’t have one nearby, try Amazon.
- Lychee nectar or lychee juice – This is the base of your drink. Nectar is sweeter and has a more concentrated flavor, while juice drinks are sometimes more diluted and less sweet.
- Canned lychee – You’ll use the syrup and fruit from canned lychee for this drink. You can also use fresh lychee, but I find the canned variety more convenient. (See ‘recipe modifications’ for tips if you’re using fresh lychee.)
- Lime juice – Adds a bit of tartness to balance out the sweetness of the lychee juice. Make sure you use freshly squeezed lime juice for maximum flavor.
- Grenadine – This is optional as it’s not usually found in lychee martinis, but I love the pink color it adds to this recipe. A little bit goes a long way!
Tips for the best lychee martini mocktail
Lychee juice is delicious on its own, but a few tips can help you elevate it into an obsession-worthy mocktail.
- Chill your martini glass or coupe – Putting your martini glass in the freezer (even if it’s only for a minute or so) makes your drink cold and frosty.
- Shake vigorously – Shaking your mocktail vigorously with ice chills it and dilutes it.
- Double-strain your mocktail – Ice shards in my martini? No thank you. Double straining with a Hawthorne strainer and fine mesh strainer will help you catch any small pieces of ice.
- Add grenadine – You usually won’t find grenadine in lychee martinis, but adding just a bit gives the drink a beautiful pastel pink color, which complements the flavor of lychee.
The flavor and aroma of lychee fruit are subtle but complex. Lychee has a bit of sweetness, slight floral notes, and a fruit flavor that is hard to place. Some say it tastes like a cross between fruits like pears, grapes, and strawberries. The texture is firm but juicy and easy to bite into, similar to a grape.
Lychee items can sometimes be hard to find in US grocery stores, although they are becoming more popular. Asian markets or grocery stores are reliable places to find lychee drinks and canned lychee. When in doubt, Amazon carries these items too. (FYI if you go this route, be sure to price compare. A can of lychee juice or fruit shouldn’t be too expensive!)
Canned lychee is best here! Since lychee has a short growing season (summertime in the US), canned lychee is a more reliable option. Plus, you’ll need lychee syrup from a can of lychee for this recipe anyway.
The cocktail version of this recipe is typically made from lychee syrup or liqueur, vodka, and vermouth, but there are many variations out there. (See ‘recipe modifications’ for my lychee martini cocktail recipe.)
- Different flavor options – You can switch up this recipe with just about any fruit and juice combo. Try grape + white grape juice, strawberry or raspberry + white cranberry juice, watermelon + watermelon juice, or pineapple + pineapple juice.
- Make it a cocktail – I’ve tried this and can verify it’s delicious. Use the same steps in the recipe card, but for the cocktail mixture, use 1 ½ oz vodka or gin, 1 ½ oz lychee liqueur, and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Large-batch – You can make this drink ahead in a pitcher or carafe and store it in the fridge. You’ll need to add about 1 oz of cold water per serving to account for the dilution you’d get from shaking the mocktail. Add a lychee fruit to each glass when serving.
- For a 1-liter carafe, use the following proportions and adjust to taste: 1 ½ cups lychee nectar or lychee juice, 1 cup lychee syrup from a can of lychee, ⅓ cup lime juice, and ⅔ cup cold water.
- Sweeter version – Use lychee nectar as your base if possible. You can also add more lychee syrup to taste.
- Less sweet version – Add less lychee syrup and consider using a lower-sugar lychee drink as your base. You can also dilute your mocktail with 1 oz of cold water.
- Use fresh lychee – Although canned lychee is best for this recipe, you can also use fresh fruit. Peel and pit your lychee, then replace the lychee syrup in this recipe with simple syrup. You’ll still need store-bought lychee juice for the drink’s base.
Easy Lychee Mocktail Martini
- 1 cocktail jigger
- 1 cocktail shaker
- 1 Hawthorne strainer (and/or a fine mesh strainer)
- 1 martini glass (or coupe)
- 2 ½ oz lychee nectar or lychee juice
- 1 ½ oz lychee syrup from a can of lychee
- ½ oz lime juice
- 1 tsp grenadine
- 1 lychee fruit pitted, preferably canned
- Optional – but highly suggested – place your martini glass in the freezer to chill while you assemble and combine your mocktail ingredients.
- Add lychee nectar, syrup, and lime juice to a shaker cup with ice. Shake vigorously until the shaker cup feels ice cold.
- Add one lychee fruit to your chilled martini glass and add a teaspoon of grenadine on top. Strain in the chilled mocktail. (Optional – double-strain through a Hawthorne strainer and a fine mesh strainer to remove small ice chunks.) Cheers!
- Please note that nutrition facts are an estimate and can vary widely based on amounts and specific types used.