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The Italian Ice of Cocktails

August 27, 2020

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro

The frozen Sgroppino comes in many shades of bittersweet.

For anyone going off in search of the perfect no-sweat, late-summer frozen drink, Italy isn’t exactly an obvious locale from which to kick off such a quest. But Italy isn’t just spritzes and sbagliatos, Negronis and Americanos. It is home to a number of less-heralded drinks, and none perhaps more unexpected than that other Venetian cocktail, the Sgroppino

Effectively sorbetto souped up with a spirit and made effervescent with local prosecco, sgropin, as it is called in dialect, originated as a palate cleanser served between courses. It remains tethered to the evening’s main event, served in this way or after the meal as a digestivo; very rarely does it venture out into dusk to tangle with the aperitivo juggernaut that is the spritz. The drink’s bond with dinner, however, has short-sold its ability to be an all-purpose, whip-it-together frozen drink that is infinite in its possibilities. 

The version you’re most likely to encounter in the Veneto region is a simple combination of lemon sorbetto, grappa or vodka (yes, vodka) and prosecco, lightly whipped together and served with a lemon peel or mint. Think of it as a frothy frappé, whirled together with nothing but a barspoon, ripe for reinvention. Secure yourself some sorbetto, something bubbly, something boozy and dream big.

Watermelon Sgroppino | Fanny Chu

Mezcal meets watermelon sorbet in Fanny Chu’s updated Sgroppino. With a smoky-sweet profile, her modern take is more than an after-dinner drink, it's an all-day affair. For a less smoky profile, try it with a different white spirit like gin, rum, tequila or vodka. 

Aperitivo Cocktail recipe
Passionfruit Sgroppino [Recipe]

Passionfruit Sgroppino | Stacey Swenson

Dante’s updated take on the Sgroppino, the palate-cleansing intermezzo and postprandial digestivo born in Venice, swaps in seasonal sorbet and a touch of aperitivo bitter for a bubbly drink you can either sip or scoop up with a spoon.

White Peach Sgroppino
White Peach Sgroppino [Recipe]

White Peach Sgroppino | Toby Cecchini

In this updated take on the Sgroppino, Toby Cecchini calls for a summery white peach sorbet supplemented with peach liqueur for a fruit-forward palate cleanser. True to the Venetian original, vodka makes an appearance as a fortifying jolt to the aperitivo cocktail.

Lemon Sgroppino
Lemony Snicker [Recipe]

Lemony Snicker | Karen Fu

In her take on the Sgroppino, Karen Fu harnesses the refreshing qualities of citrus in multiple forms: yuzu-inflected Japanese gin, frosty lemon sorbet, bright meyer lemon juice and fizzy lemon-lime soda. Bianco vermouth rounds out the recipe, but Fu notes that fino sherry can easily stand in (she recommends Barbadillo).

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