Asian Flavors, Doubled
Creating a Lychee Lemon Grass Martini
Aaron Haynes isn€™t planning on a new career. He€™s the sales and marketing manager for Creations in Catering in Honolulu, not the chef or the bar manager. Although he enjoys food and drink, creating them is €œnot my area.€
But the bar manager was on vacation when the company was doing a photo shoot for a local magazine. A cocktail was needed€”and Haynes, who enjoys a good cocktail, decided he could put one together.
The menu included food that reflected the Pacific Rim/Asian flavors Hawaii is known for. €œI remember thinking, €˜Oh, I want to take the Asian theme and kind of double it up and make it stronger.€
Lemon grass is used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Lychee, which originated in China, can be found throughout Southeast Asia and, now, in California, Florida and Hawaii. Haynes has a lychee tree in his yard and says it€™s not hard to get a lychee martini at local bars and restaurants. Most of those cocktails are made with canned lychees, however, and Haynes says there€™s a big difference between the flavor of a canned lychee and one that€™s fresh.
Haynes made a simple martini, but added both flavor and visual interest by piercing a fresh lychee with a stalk of lemon grass. A thin twist of lemon in the glass €œaccentuates the fact that there is lemon flavor,€ he says. €œEven someone who knows lemon grass doesn€™t always know what it looks like.€
Creations in Catering is the full-service catering branch of Hawaii Caterers, an event production company in Honolulu, started 25 years ago by Michael Rabe. €œBecause we€™re on a little rock in the middle of the Pacific, we try to bring interesting and special things from other areas to Hawaii,€ Haynes says. €œAnd we try to bring the unique things we have here to the mainland as well, just in the spirit of sharing.€
Lychee Lemon Grass Martini
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 stalks lemon grass, chopped coarsely
2 oz vodka
1 oz Lemon Grass Simple Syrup
2 oz lychee juice (from canned lychees or, if in Hawaii or Asia, fresh squeezed!)
1 lemon twist
lychee and stalk of lemon grass for garnish (optional)
Make the Lemon Grass Simple Syrup: Mix the sugar, water and chopped lemon grass and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 25 minutes, then strain and discard the lemon grass. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To make the martini: Mix vodka, Lemon Grass Simple Syrup and lychee juice. Shake with ice, strain and pour into a glass. Garnish with lemon twist and lychee pierced with a stalk of lemon grass, if desired.