Happy Lunar New Year! The lunar new year may have started on Monday, but the Chinese celebrate for 15 days, so why shouldn’t you? You have plenty of time to kick off the year of the dragon with this lychee martini appropriately named Eye of the Dragon.
When a rep from Bulldog Gin sent me this recipe and offered to send a sample of their gin, I could hardly say no. I had never had (or even heard of, to be fair) Bulldog Gin, but the very morning that I got an e-mail Bulldog, a coworker mentioned that she had to find some for her sister’s cocktail party because it was her boyfriend’s favorite gin. My interest was piqued, so I was pretty excited by the time I got the package from Bulldog with my sample.
Bulldog Gin is distilled with dragon eye (also known as longan, a tropical fruit found in South and Southeast Asia) along with the traditional juniper and other botanicals and is without a doubt the smoothest gin I’ve ever tried. It can easily be drunk neat, but if this drink is any indication, it’s also delicious in mixed drinks. It’s perfect in this lychee martini, with its citrus and floral notes layered with the dragon eye and juniper.
Lychees, if you’re not familiar with them, are a popular tropical fruit in Southeast Asia with a fresh, perfumy flavor that is hard to describe. They’re larger and slightly firmer than grapes with a reddish rind and a marble-sized seed inside. I’ve never had the pleasure of having fresh lychee (I hope to change that in May when they’re in season in North America), but even canned, lychees are delicious, refreshing morsels.
My niece, when she was two, fell in love with lychees at a Japanese restaurant and squeeled with joy for more “bubbles” and the memory of it always makes me smile and makes me love lychees all the more. So while I was initially hesitant to shell out the dough to get yet another flavored liquor, one sniff of the lychee liquor and I knew it was well worth it.
At first sip of the martini, Joseph and I turned to each other, eyes wide. We agreed that, while tasty, this is one sweet drink. A couple sips later, the initial surprise wore off and we decided it was actually quite good. Just like the fruit, the Eye of the Dragon is light and refreshing. Just take a sip, close your eyes, and picture that tropical beach….