Sgroppino – the boozy smoothie that doubles up as a dessert

Just as we’re preparing for a leaner January, which for many of us may include a return to calorie counting, juicing and smoothies, let’s have one last decadent alcoholic smoothie to see out the old and welcome the new.

Sgroppino cocktail or digestiv In the Italian region of Venice, Sgroppino used to be served as a palate cleanser in between courses. These days more often than not, it is served as an after-dinner digestif.  Indeed, the word “Sgroppino” comes from the Venetian word for “un-knot” or “loosen”, referring to the undoing of the trouser button after a gluttonous meal.

But Sgroppino is equally refreshing to sip as a cocktail on a hot balmy summer’s evening while watching the world go by.

As this gorgeous recipe uses Prosecco (a dry sparkling wine from the Veneto and Friuli regions in Italy), I’d say this is the perfect ending for a festive New Year’s menu as well.

As a cocktail or digestif, lemon vodka or limoncello (a delicious Italian lemon liqueur) is blended or whipped with lemon sorbet and Prosecco.

As a dessert, Prosecco is gently poured over a lemon sorbet, a bit like an adult ice cream float.

Ingredients sgroppino

I’ve pushed to boat out on this occasion and made an exquisite limoncello sorbet. As I have a particular soft spot for limoncello.

“Meet me at the airport and pack for the sun“, he said. And then he whisked me off to Sardinia for a long weekend for our 2nd date. Separate rooms I hasten to add,  as he was a gentleman through and through. On our last night we climbed up the dune next to our hotel with a bottle of limoncello and 2 plastic cups. There we sat drinking and talking about anything and everything and watched to sun come up.

Every time I have limoncello, I am still transported back to that dune in Sardinia 25 years on. I know, I’m an old romantic despite it all.

I served this as part of an Italian dinner:

Ricotta Gnudi in a Tomato Broth with Kale and Cashew Pesto

Italian Stuffed Squid with Nduja Roasted Tomato Sauce and Squid Ink Orzo Risottata 

Sgroppino – Limoncello Sorbet in Prosecco


Limoncello Sorbet (GF LC V)

This recipe is stolen from The Tuscan Sun. If you can’t find limoncello, you can use lemon vodka instead. You’ll have to use a little less though, as vodka is much stronger, so could prevent the sorbet from setting and completely take over the flavour

Leave out the limoncello or vodka altogether, and you’ll still have a delicious lemon sorbet.

The sorbet is equally wonderful served in a small glass with just (lemon) vodka or limoncello poured over. This is called a “Colonel” in Belgium and France.

Limoncello sorbet colonel


200 gr unrefined sugar plus 2 tbsp

600 ml water

2 tsp grated lemon zest

Juice of 5-6 lemons (240 ml)

4 tbsp chilled limoncello


Add the sugar to a pan with 240 ml water and the lemon zest. Heat over medium, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved.

Take off the heat and stir through the remaining water, the lemon juice and limoncello

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hrs.

Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions until you have a soft serve consistency.

Transfer to a freezer proof container and freeze for minimum 3 hrs before serving.

Sgroppino cocktail or digestif (pp)

Make it non-alcoholic by blending lemon sorbet with elderflower cordial and elderflower pressé.

Sgroppino cocktail or digestiv


1 ½ tbsp chilled limoncello

A scoop of limoncello or lemon sorbet

120 ml chilled Prosecco

Fresh mint or a lemon twist to garnish (optional)


Pulse everything in a blender to combine.

Alternatively, and more traditionally, add everything to a chilled metal bowl and whisk by hand until combined and frothy.

Pour into a chilled champagne flute or cocktail glass. Garnish with mint or lemon, if using.

Sgroppino dessert (pp)

Sgroppino limoncello sorbet


1 tbsp limoncello

A scoop of limoncello or lemon sorbet

120 ml chilled Prosecco

Fresh mint or a lemon twist to garnish (optional)

a few almond biscotti (cantuccini) to serve


Spoon a tbsp of limoncello in the bottom of a cocktail glass. Top with the sorbet and gently pour the Prosecco around the sorbet. Garnish if you like, and serve straight away or the ssorbet will start dissolving in the Prosecco.


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