FoodSgroppino: The luxurious Venetian treat now a global sensation

Sgroppino: The luxurious Venetian treat now a global sensation

Sgroppino al Limone
Sgroppino al Limone
Images source: © Getty Images | 2020 Candice Bell

7 July 2024 19:56

In the 16th century, wealthy residents of Venice enjoyed a frozen drink made from lemon and sugar, strengthened with a touch of alcohol. It was believed to be a remedy for stomach problems. Today, sgroppino is a cocktail that is appreciated worldwide and is especially popular on hot days.

The cocktail's name comes from the Old Venetian word "sgropìn," meaning "relax." This word refers to its supposed properties of regulating the digestive system after a hearty meal. Wealthy citizens of Venice believed in it and reached for the drink as early as the 16th century. Therefore, it was served at the end of lavish feasts.

Sgroppino was initially prepared from lemon mixed with sugar and a very exclusive product: ice harvested from nearby lakes and streams in winter. It was stored in unique, cool rooms located in cellars. Only wealthy Venetians could afford frozen treats.

The cocktail was enhanced with alcohol. What kind? It's unknown, probably eau de vie (a colourless brandy produced through the fermentation and double distillation of grape must) or grappa (a distillate made from fermented grape pomace and seeds).

Over time, the sgroppino recipe evolved to its current form, a cocktail based on lemon sorbet whipped to a foam with a bit of vodka, topped with prosecco, a fashionable Italian sparkling wine today. The drink enjoys great popularity in Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It will appeal to people in other countries as well. Those avoiding alcohol can prepare sgroppino in a "non-alcoholic" version.

The secret lies in the ingredients

Of course, the lemon sorbet is responsible for the refreshing taste of sgroppino. We can buy it in the store (check the ingredients first, which should be as short as possible and limited to water, lemon juice, and sugar) or prepare it ourselves (just blend freshly squeezed juice from three lemons, 400 grams of ice, and 110 grams of sugar).

Traditional sgroppino should also include a portion of plain vodka (good quality, with a mild taste). Still, the more important ingredient is prosecco, a sparkling wine from two Italian regions: Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Its production tradition dates back to Roman times, but the drink began to gain true fame in the 18th century, thanks to Francesco Marii Malvolti, who praised the taste of the sparkling beverage in the "Italian Journal" and was the first to use the term prosecco.

Unlike champagne, prosecco is produced using the Charmat method. The second fermentation occurs not in the bottle but in pressurised tanks, and the finished sparkling wine is bottled. The process usually takes no longer than three weeks, which results in prosecco's freshness and fruity finish.

Recipe for sgroppino

The task is simple. In a small bowl, vigorously mix lemon sorbet (about 180 ml) and vodka (about 45 ml). You can use a mixer, milk frother, or hand whisk. After about a minute, a foam should form. Divide it into two cocktail glasses and then top each with prosecco. Finally, garnish with grated lemon zest. Drink sgroppino immediately after preparation, as its ingredients will naturally separate after a while, which will look unattractive.

If you want to prepare a non-alcoholic version of the Italian cocktail, whip the lemon sorbet with Sprite or 7up, pour it into glasses, and sprinkle it with pomegranate seeds and grated white chocolate. Before serving, garnish with red currants and mint leaves.

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