How To: Smashing Sgroppini

Elderflower & Lemon Sgroppino

  • 20ml Absolut Elyx
  • 90ml Perrier Jouët Grand Brut NV Champagne
  • 1 scoop of elderflower & lemon sorbet

This How To featured in the March issue of Australian Bartender magazine

By Simon McGoram
Photography by Rob Palmer

*Presented by Hayley Morrison from The Roosevelt, 32 Orwell Street, Potts Point, Sydney


Sgroppino. It’s as difficult to spell as it is delicious. A favourite Venetian palate cleanser Sgroppino, traditionally a mix of lemon sorbetto and Prosecco, roughly translates to ‘little un-knotter’. Certainly the drink has worked its magic on the palates of northern Italians and Austro-Hungarians from as early as the 16th century.

It is believed that Marco Polo introduced the Western world to sorbet. The great explorer brought to Italy a recipe for the icy dessert on his way back from China in the late 13th century as outlined in his Livres des merveilles du monde – more commonly referred to as The Travels of Marco Polo. Prosecco had, by this time been around for a couple of hundred years so it was simply a study of time and pressure (in this case the rich local food) before sparkling wine met sorbet.

Pre-refrigeration, sorbet, as you might imagine, was a delicacy reserved for the aristocracy. And as far as aristocracy goes, few were more influential than Catherine de’ Medici who left Italy in 1533 to marry the Duke of Orleans, who later became Henry II of France. It is believed that Catherine not only introduced the art of liqueur making to the French court, but also showed them the delights of gelato. By the end of the 17th century, sorbet was served in the streets of Paris, and spread to England and the rest of Europe.

Make Your Own Dry Ice Sorbet

Sorbet is a water-based ice that has a smooth almost creamy constancy due to the presence of solids – in this case sugar – and churning inhibiting the frozen water crystals from forming a rock-hard interlocking crystalline structure. Alcohol which has a lower freezing point than water – 40% abv vodka for instance freezes at about  -27° Celsius – can also be added in small amounts to achieve a desired consistency.

Purchasing a quality ice cream churner to make sorbets can be quite an expensive exercise, but thankfully, due to the scientific endeavours of chefs like Heston Blumenthal, we now have knowledge of other more economical and highly effective means.

Carbon dioxide (CO2 ‘or dry ice’) freezes at -80° Celsius and as it warms up sublimates straight into gas with no liquid form. These properties make it the perfect freezing agent for sorbet as you can reach temperatures much colder than with any domestic device and the quicker your mixture is frozen the smaller the ice crystals will be resulting in a smoother texture in your sorbet.

The process is relative simple – pound your dry ice into a fine powder – large lumps won’t completely dissolve and will be unpleasant to eat – and add it straight to your sorbet mix in a Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment as the whisk attachment will add to much air. Turn it on. Within a minute you’ll have perfect sorbet then you can mix Sgroppini to your heart’s content.

How to make Elderflower & Lemon Sorbet

  • 300g fructose
  • 300ml water
  • 100ml elderflower cordial
  • 300ml chilled fresh lemon juice
  • 15ml Absolut Elyx vodka
  • Approximately 500g dry ice

Step One: Gently heat the water and fructose until it has fully dissolved to create a syrup. Chill thoroughly then pour into your mixer

Step Two: Add your chilled fresh lemon juice & elderflower cordial to your mixer

Step Three: Add your Absolut Elyx vodka

Step Four: Wrap the dry ice in a clean tea towel then pound into a fine powder with a mallet or rolling pin. Add the dry ice powder to your mixer

Step Five: Turn the mixer on to a medium speed

Step Six: Your perfect Sgroppino sorbet will be ready in seconds

Notes about ingredients

  • Be organised – chill all ingredients ahead of time
  • Fructose, the sugar found naturally in fruit, is excellent in sorbets because it helps boost the ‘fruitiness’ of the mix. Fructose can be purchased in supermarkets and health food stores
  • It’s worth noting that when your ice cream or sorbet mixture is warm it will seem a lot sweeter than when it is frozen
  • Dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) can be easily purchased online or from gas suppliers like BOC. Purchase just before you need to use it and store in an esky. You will lose 20% of the dry ice due to evaporation every 24 hours – a freezer at -18° will do little to prevent a -80° substance from evaporating. Please note that dry ice should not be handled without protective gloves.
  • The new Absolut Elyx is a single-batch vodka produced in a hand-operated copper column still from 1929. Distilled exclusively from single-estate winter wheat and employing copper’s natural purifying properties the resulting vodka has a natural pure taste and unique silky texture.

*Add all ingredients to the base of a mixing glass. Using the flat end of a barspoon, whip the ingredients together to completely emulsify. Pour into a champagne flute and garnish with a lemon twist.

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