As you have no doubt guessed, my mind is not always the most organized place in the world. So please excuse the fact that I am posting the welcome drinks recipe from my dinner party after I posted the starters. What can I say? My bad…
So the welcome drinks I made were lemongrass-infused litchi
champagne sparkling wine cocktails. And, as with most things in this party, they were not my original plan. A good few years ago my family and I were invited to a friend’s engagement party. And at the party, along with some delicious sandwiches, they had the most amazing berry and sparkling wine cocktails. I was only just old enough to drink at the time – and even my un-educated palate knew that here was something special. And, like a lot of other random taste combinations, the thought of these has been sitting in the back of my mind, waiting for a reason for me to try to make my own. And they were my first thought for the welcome drinks. However, about a month and a half ago, I was watching a cooking program (Easy Chinese on the Food Network, for those of you who are interested) and watched the sweet lady whip up a champagne cocktail. And I decided I had to try that instead.
Of course, as with everything I do, there’s a story in something as simple as buying ingredients. In this case – the sparkling wine. I was at the supermarket (yes, the same one that didn’t have my mozzarella!) and they had some of those wonderful people who are advertising their wares in the form of free samples. In this case – a sparkling wine. A nice, sweet sparkling wine – exactly what I was looking for. So I’m offered a glass of this stuff (at this point I should point out that it was about 4 o clock on a Friday afternoon) which I very happily accepted. They were happy as I proceeded to buy a bottle of the stuff (Blush by Bon Courage if you’re interested – I’m not affiliated, I just really enjoyed it!) and I was happy as I got a free (half) glass of sparkling wine. Yum! I then asked if they had any white wine (I needed them for the lamb shanks… more on that in a future post!). They didn’t, but pointed me in the direction of another white wine, which was fine. We then proceeded to have a conversation about cooking with wine, and even occasionally using the wine in the food! On a side note, don’t you think it’s funny how you can say something and have it come out sounding completely different… I said that I don’t generally drink while I’m cooking as it makes the food taste funny – I meant that it messes with my taste buds and then the food tastes funny to me – but I think they thought that I meant that the food tastes funny because I’m cooking drunk… I promise that’s not the case! (excuse the pun) Whoops.
Anyway, enough about me – here’s the recipe. The original is here.
Lemongrass-infused Litchi Cocktails
– 1 can litchis or lychees, whichever is easier to find (I’ve made it with both with no major difference in taste)
-1 bottle sparkling wine/champagne of your choice. Sweeter is better in my opinion – but each to his own!
– 1 stalk lemongrass, beaten into submission. Or bruised to release the flavours. Your choice.
Drain the litchis, pouring the syrup into a small saucepan. Put the bruised lemongrass into the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then take off the heat and allow to cool.
Liquidize the litchis. I reserved 5 whole litchis to use as garnish (see glass on left) but that’s up to you. When the syrup has cooled a bit, add it to the litchi pulp and put into the fridge until you need it.
If you want to rim the glasses in sugar, just take the clean glass, turn it upside down, and put it about half a cm into the litchi mixture. Then dip it straight into a saucer with castor sugar in it. turn it back upright and leave it to dry – the sugar should harden into a pretty sparkly rim around the glass.
When you’re ready to serve, put about 1/3 of a glass of the litchi mixture into the flute. Top up with champagne/sparkling wine. Just be aware that the champagne will fix violently – so go slowly and carefully.
Finish with the litchi on the side of the glass and enjoy! I know we did…
(This gave us about 7-8 glasses – when the litchi pulp mixture ran low I topped it up with some pure litchi fruit juice. Which worked nicely.)
G O A S-S B