Outside of Hai Hai in Northeast Minneapolis, the snow banks are growing and the wind is howling. Inside, there’s sugar cane being pressed, limes being juiced, and a thicket of green herbs covering the bar. As long as I don’t leave this bar seat, it’s no longer winter as far as I’m concerned. Let’s keep those vibes going with a slushie.
“I think blender drinks are fun because, you think margaritas, and that’s it,” says Hai Hai bar manager Christina Jenkins. “It’s fun to think about this style of drink because it’s a big batch—a good way to make group cocktails and think outside the box.”
Her thinking on the Lychee Keen began with the components of a classic cocktail, the Corpse Reviver No. 2. To those she adds lychee—the bulbous little Asian fruits have a subtle sweetness, and when frozen and blended up, their pulp adds some nice texture to the drink as well. St-Germain adds a complementary perfume that helps prop up the delicate lychee.
The absinthe (See Spirits Close-Up) is an important component. A tiny note of earthy, robust bitterness keeps the slushie from being too sweet, and provides an aroma that helps bridge the cocktail from start to finish. And think of how many other fruits you could freeze and juice into this formula—pear, watermelon, mangosteen—it’s feeling more like summer already.
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(makes 2 drinks)
1 ounce Tattersall Gin
1 ounce Tattersall Orange Crema
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces lychee syrup (from the can)
4 frozen lychees
Absinthe, in a spritz bottle
Open a can of lychees, strain the syrup and reserve, and place the fruits in the freezer. Once frozen, add the first six ingredients to a blender with a scoop of ice and blend well. Drop a whole lychee in each of two wide coupes, margarita glasses, or wine glasses, and pour the slushie over the top. Spritz the top of each drink with absinthe (or, if you don’t have a spray bottle, rinse the glasses with absinthe before pouring the slushie.) Garnish with an orange wheel.