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.
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!
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.