Lychee Sake-tini Jello Shots

This recipe came about when I was snacking on these lychee jellies. I've loved them ever since I was a kid. My mom would buy a big tub of them, and it'd be half empty by the end of the day. Syrupy, jello-like treats that you just slurp up from their tiny cups.

That's when it hit me...wouldn't it be fun to turn these into a jello shot? I've seen the recipe for Lychee Martini Jelly Shots on the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen blog, so my mind went straight to one of my favorite cocktails: the lychee sake-tini. One of my other favorite blogs, E is for Eat, also has some unique jello shot recipes, so I was really excited to make my own. (Seriously, check out Jaymee Sire's jello shots!) Now...let me take you through my experiment with lychees and sake! :)

When I was choosing a sake, I did a little research first (Thanks, Google). Several articles and blog posts recommended Ginjo sake for desserts because they're sweeter and fruitier, so I figured it would pair well with the flavor of the lychee. After I read the description on the bottle of Ty Ku's Junmai Ginjo sake, the "peach & vanilla notes" got me. Peach goes extremely well with lychee, and I knew I had a bottle of vanilla vodka that would be great in the martini. As for the spiffy bottle and $20 pricetag? I realize this seems a little fancy for a jello shot, but I knew I wasn't going to use all of it. I could just drink the rest...:P

Since this is only the initial test recipe, I understood that there would certainly be room for improvement. Some research while waiting for the jello to set (Thanks, brought Hana Lychee Sake to my attention. Maybe, next time, I'll give that one a try.

I also looked through some lychee sake-tini recipes online (Basically, THANKS INTERNET IN GENERAL), and I noticed a lot of them used the syrup from canned lychees as the flavoring. Instead, I went with a lychee drink. These beverages can be found at an Asian market and have a more concentrated, brighter lychee flavor (not heavy-sugary-syrup-in-a-can flavor). Again, considering the "room for improvement" factor, I made a mental note to try a flavored liqueur in the future, such as SOHO Lychee or Kwai Feh.

Once I knew what my cocktail liquids would be, making the jello is actually very simple and easy. I poured 1 1/2 cups of the lychee drink into a small saucepan, then sprinkled 1 tbsp of sugar and 2 1/2 packets-worth of gelatin powder into the lychee drink. I stirred to make sure all of the granules "soak" in the liquid, then let this mixture stand for 1 minute. Next, I placed the saucepan over a low flame, and gently warmed the mixture until the gelatin was completely dissolved, making sure to stir constantly.

Once the gelatin dissolved, I added 3/4 cup sake and 1/4 cup vanilla vodka directly into the lychee-gelatin mix, and stirred lightly just to combine. I poured the jello into a 13x9 glass pyrex that I sprayed with cooking spray then wiped clean with a paper towel. This residual layer of grease helps during the unmolding process later.

About 30 minutes into refrigeration, I pulled the jello out and added Nata De Coco. Nata de Coco is a chewy gel made from coconut water, and it's a popular ingredient in Filipino desserts (mmm Halo-Halo). It's the same gel that's inside the lychee jellies that inspired this recipe (see: first photo in this post). They come in a jar and in big cubes, so I just used a pair of kitchen shears to cut them into tiny cubes. I sprinkled the nata de coco over the semi-set jello, and they just floated in the jello instead of sinking straight to the bottom. I returned the pyrex to the fridge to let everything set for another couple of hours.

Okay, so this is where I literally just sat and stared at my pyrex of Lychee-Sake jelly for a good five minutes. Thinking, ", how do I serve this as a shot?" It turns out that a 13x9 pyrex is actually a little too big, and the jelly was a little too thin to cut into shot-sized blocks. A smaller pan or silicone mold was probably the better route. BUT, determined to make a pretty presentation, I sliced the jelly into small squares and used those to fill individual shot glasses.

As a way to "dress up" and garnish the shots, I used lychees speared onto cocktail picks.

To say that I was pleased with the results would be an understatement. I was ECSTATIC when I tried them, and immediately felt the urge to make anyone I could possibly get to try them. The tropical, floral notes from the lychee come through, the crisp, distinct sake flavor is there, and the added texture from the nata de coco really brings me back to those childhood-favorite lychee jellies. These Lychee Sake-tini Jello Shots are a playful, yet sophisticated concoction that I hope to wow friends with at my next cocktail party!

Lychee Sake-tini Jello Shots

Print Recipe
1 1/2 cups Lychee Drink or Lychee Juice
1 tbsp White Granulated Sugar
2 1/2 packets Knox Unflavored Gelatin Powder
3/4 cup Ginjo Sake
1/4 cup Vanilla Vodka
Nata De Coco, small dice (optional)
Lychees, for garnish (optional)

  1. Combine the lychee juice and sugar in a small sauce pan. Sprinkle in the gelatin powder, and stir to combine. Let this mixture stand for 1 minute, to let the gelatin "soak". 
  2. Place the sauce pan over low-heat, and gently warm the mixture until the gelatin has completely dissolved, making sure to stir constantly.
  3. Remove the sauce pan from the heat, then add the Ginjo sake and vanilla vodka to the lychee-gelatin mixture. Stir to combine, then pour the jello base into a pan or silicone mold.
  4. After 30 minutes of refrigeration, take the jello out and sprinkle in the diced Nata De Coco. The Nata De Coco should slowly sink into the jello and not drop straight to the bottom. Return the pan or mold to the fridge, and chill until everything is completely set.
  5. Cut the chilled jello into shot-sized cubes or unmold the jello from their individual silicon molds. Serve with or garnish with lychees.