sweet welcome for 2014
lychee Champagne cocktail
Then there was the Paris sun which decided to make a pleasing appearance although only momentarily. However brief, doing my marketing for tonight’s dinner, without rain pouring on my head, was a welcome treat.
Prominently displayed in the marché (as well as all supermarkets) are fresh lychees. Still on their branches, in a bright red I have never seen, the fruit looked like flower bouquets and smelled just as sweet. My resolve weak, I could not leave without a bundle.
At home, the fragrant lychees perfumed the apartment and I forgot about the disappearing sun. Instead, I thought of George and Maxim. I’ll explain.
Maxim works at the George V, a swanky hotel on avenue George V which flows south from the Champs Elysées. I have never stayed at the hotel, but I am fond of the cozy bar outfitted with a few tables, a small bar, and a fireplace which is particularly inviting in the colder months. Occasionally I meet or take friends there. It is quaint and familiar. When I crave a little Americana, I go there as the hotel is quite popular with Americans and there is as much English spoken as there is French.
The bar has a collection of speciality cocktails and fanciful martinis. This week, I asked Maxim to make something up for me (they do this for many clients, not just me). Maxim made me something which I was quite fond of: a lychee Champagne cocktail, at least that is what I am calling it.
Maxim used lychee liquor, but I used the fresh lychees I found at the market because we are welcoming in a new year and something extra special seemed in order. If you cannot find fresh lychees, you can used canned lychees which I know you can find in the States (even Smart & Final carries them).
I feel obliged to tell you that this beverage goes down rather smoothly (um), so keep that in mind (I am not going to tell you not to drive after drinking because you already know that).
In Paris, everyone says bonne fin d’année (happy end of the year) until the clock strikes midnight then it becomes “bonne année.”
Given the time difference, I wish you both.
lychee Champagne cocktail
4 – 4½ ounces Champagne
1 tablespoon quality vodka (Georges V uses Grey Goose)
2 tablespoons lychee syrup
fresh lychees (as needed)
lychee syrup (makes enough for a bottle of Champagne)
20-24 lychees, pits removed
½ cup superfine sugar
2 cups bottled water
- Lychee Syrup. Remove shells and pits from lychees (do it over a saucepan so no lychee juice is lost). Add sugar and water to the saucepan. Place saucepan over a medium heat. Cook until you achieve a syrup consistency. Remove from heat. Strain syrup through a sieve into a container, pressing the lychee flesh against the sieve to expel all of the syrup. Cool. The syrup can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a week.
- Mix. Pour 2 tablespoons of the syrup and 1 tablespoon of vodka in a champagne glass. Add 4-41/2 ounces of Champagne. If you have fresh lychees, add a little fresh lychee juice into each glass by squeezing the flesh. Mix gently. Serve cold.