sgroppino al limone

lemon cocktails, and equine memories. no, NOT equus. ::::

When I lived in England as a girl, I remember the green. In the spring, in the winter, autumn, and summer, there was always bright, lush green grass growing, soft and wild. One of these lush fields of green near my school and many friends’ homes was dotted with a few horses. These horses were tame, often coming to the spindly wire fence to implore me with their dusty eyelashed eyes for some treats. I never brought anything edible with me, hoping the friend I was with would have the foresight to bring some carrots or oats. I attempted to feed a Palomino a cracker once. After a waggle of his lips and snort, it was promptly spat out onto the ground, missing me and my favorite leather Mary Janes.

All the horses were nameless except Patch. I don’t how we all knew his name, but we did. He seemed to be the underdog, black and white spotted, blazing blue eyes, a little smaller than the rest. His motions were less fluid than his mates, he jerking his head wildly at times, mane and tail tangled and rough. He would bound over like an oversized Golden Retriever, shake his head as if to say Heyyyyyyyy! You’re here!  And then there was his nose. His muzzle was unmistakably bent, as if it had a mind of its own, always peering to the side. His sneezes and snorts would veer off more unpredictably than his more stately field mates’, given his twisted snout and mouth had a larger saliva droplet spray angle.

It surprised me when I thought of Patch again more recently, when thinking of a lemony cocktail. I first heard of sgroppino  in Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter, amused by her description. She described the name of this Italian concoction of prosecco, vodka, and lemon sorbet sounding like the sneeze-like sound a horse makes as it shakes flies from its nose, or the shiver and shake one has after taking a sip of the drink. Instead of the typical horse, I immediately through of Patch, his wry face and his buoyant personality. More research gave me another translation from numerous sources: “to untie or relax” one’s stomach. This is an after-dinner drink and it does just that. It relaxes and unties, so unlike Patch, and if very after-dinner for me, it nudges me into that channel of sleep that I often find so hard to reach.


After many taste-tests one weekend, Eat, Eat’s sister, and I agreed that the fresh lemon sorbet made all the difference. Although using store-bought lemon sorbet is quick, your efforts will be rewarded if you make the sorbet yourself. My one complaint: the lemon zest. The sorbet recipe calls for lemon zest, but when mixed into the drink, it sinks to the bottom of the glass and imparts a sludgy chewiness at the last sip. While I like lemon zest, I don’t like its texture in this drink. I’d recommend straining the entire drink after mixing it, serving it with fresh lemon slices or mint, and making another round afterward. It is a grown-up lemonade for any time of year, taking you back to once well-forgotten memories of an asymmetric horse with a cheery disposition.


sgroppino al limone
Recipe type: drink
Serves: 6
  • 1½ cups / 355 ml Lemon sorbet (recipe below in Notes section)
  • ¾ cup / 177 ml Prosecco
  • ¼ cup / 60 ml vodka
  • Lemon slices to garnish
  1. In a pitcher, whisk together all ingredients. Pour into pretty chilled glasses, strain (see Notes below), and garnish.**
Homemade Lemon Sorbet* heavily adapted from David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop 2 cups sugar 2 cups water 1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 8-10 lemons) 2 teaspoons lemon zest** 1. Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan, boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes. Cool completely. This is the simple syrup. 2. Add the lemon juice and zest to the simple syrup. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. I did mine overnight. 3. Set up your ice cream machine. Allow to mix and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. My sorbet was still a little watery when I maxed out the mixing time in the ice cream maker, so I froze it in a separate container for 3 hours for a firmer consistency. * You can certainly use store-bought lemon sorbet but you will be rewarded with your efforts to make your own with the fresh lemon juice. ** See my notes above about the lemon zest. I found it a little distracting in the drink, sinking to the bottom of the glass and giving a chewy texture. I'd recommend straining the mixture before serving.




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