Sgroppino (Lemon Sorbet Cocktail)

December 30, 2014

Every Tuesday, Italian expat Emiko Davies is taking us on a grand tour of Italy, showing us how to make classic, fiercely regional dishes at home.

Today: A refreshing Venetian cocktail that doubles as a digestif.

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The Venetians know a thing or two about mixing a good drink -- take the Aperol spritz and the Bellini -- and the sgroppino is no exception. A wonderful palate cleanser or a refreshing digestif, a sgroppino is basically a mixture of softened lemon sorbet and Prosecco (a dry sparkling wine from the Veneto and Friuli regions), whisked together until frothy. 

An age-old refresher that once graced aristocratic Venetian tables, this was often served between courses as a palate cleanser, particularly when moving from a seafood to a meat dish. Today, it is often served as an after-dinner drink in place of dessert and is commonly boosted with a splash of vodka (or more untraditionally, limoncello or even sambuca). The fact that the name of this drink comes from the Venetian word to “un-knot” or “to loosen” is no coincidence -- this is a welcome cocktail to enjoy after a big meal.

There are more versions of this drink than there are bartenders, and you can find it in a thicker form more like a smoothie, with a higher ratio of frozen sorbet to Prosecco. More uncommonly, you can even find it in an unmixed version, a little like an elegant ice cream soda, the Prosecco topped with a scoop of lemon sorbet. 

More: Serve this as dessert at your no-fuss New Year's Eve dinner party.

The consistency of this light and frothy cocktail is key. There are those that suggest to blend it in a blender, but purists will argue that it should be hand-whisked, as the blender melts the sorbet too quickly (and blending sparkling drinks leads to a flatter cocktail) -- and I have to agree. Hand whisking is no more laborious than it is to clean up a blender, and it doesn't take long. You'll have these refreshing, smooth-as-silk drinks in your guests' hands before you can say cin-cin!


Serves 4, generously

2 cups (500 milliliters) lemon sorbet
2 cups (500 milliliters) Prosecco

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emiko Davies

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ellen39
  • jackie
  • CrabCakes
  • Emiko
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.


Ellen39 December 31, 2014
The first time we saw these delivered to guests at a restaurant in Venice I said to my husband, "They can't be having a glass of milk after dinner!" So we ordered one to find out what it was. And then we ordered another. And then..........
Emiko December 31, 2014
fantastic, I love stories like these! :)
jackie December 30, 2014
No vodka?
Emiko December 30, 2014
Hi, if you read the article you'll see the mention of vodka (and a couple other things you might also find in place of the vodka) but the traditional one (and the one I prefer) is sorbet and prosecco. ;)
CrabCakes December 30, 2014
Any thoughts on substitutions for a non-alcoholic aperitif?
Emiko December 30, 2014
Hmm, it's such a simple cocktail with only two ingredients, if you take out the prosecco you really just have slushy sorbet. I don't see much point in it but you could perhaps put soda water to make it a bit fizzy/loosen the sorbet a bit?