Sgroppino

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This recipe originally posted in April of 2013. Because this Italian cocktail is so delicious and unique, I decided to re-publish the post.

My husband and I were in Venice in 2008 During a blissful 3-week tour of Northern Italy. One day, we wandered into a less touristy part of town to find a lunch spot and discovered a perfect alley-way restaurant that specialized in seafood, and sat outside at one of their three tables. This was their chalkboard menu:

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We chose a whole sea bass for lunch, which was spectacular, as you can see.

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After dinner, the waiter turned to me and suggested a drink to help with digestion. Perhaps I looked like I’d eaten the whole fish by myself? But since he described an alcoholic-based drink and mentioned limone, I was all for it. It ended up being like a limoncello with cream. But even better.

Now, I truly, my dear blogger friends, was not intoxicated, as it looks. I was definitely enjoying my Sgroppino, but was caught mid-blink by my husband behind the camera. It’s because of this drink alone that I kept the photo, but it’s also a great reminder of the unexpectedly wonderful time we had in Venice.

When I got home, you can bet I looked for this drink online. It’s called sgroppino – SRO-PEE-NO, with the accent on the PEE.

There are actually two versions of Sgroppino, according to what I read. One drink is definitely what I enjoyed in Venice – a creamy, bubbly lemon drink. The other drink doesn’t contain cream.

Here’s the creamy version:

Sgroppino al Limone, serves 4

2 cups lemon sorbet, softened
2 tablespoons vodka
2/3 cup Prosecco
4 tablespoons half and half

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Whisk the lemon sorbet in a medium bowl until it is smooth. Gradually whisk in vodka, cream, and prosecco. Alternatively, you can use a blender.

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Pour mixture into chilled champagne flutes and serve immediately.

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Here’s the non-creamy version:

Sgroppino, serves 4

2 cups chilled Prosecco
4 tablespoons chilled vodka
2/3 cup lemon sorbet
Mint leaves, optional

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Mix the Prosecco and vodka together, then divide in between 4 chilled champagne flutes. Spoon a scoop of sorbet into each flute, and decorate with a mint sprig. Serve immediately.

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My husband and I tend to stay away from tourist attractions, and prefer experiencing Europe as non-tourists, but if you’re ever in Venice, ride the darn gondola. It truly is magical. I don’t know if they all do this, but our gondolier sang!!! And it was lovely.

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Pear Liqueur Verdict

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I’m a terrible bartender. I have no idea why, but I am. So I was stumped when my pear liqueur I began last month was “done.” because I wasn’t sure what the heck to do with it. Although I love a cocktail, I don’t like strong drinks, so a pear martini was out of the question.

I checked out cocktails made with Poire William, and only found really complicated recipes that didn’t sound any good at all.

Then champagne came to mind. It’s a fabulous mixer, and bubbles are always festive and fun.

So I decided to try out the pear liqueur three ways. One with champagne, one with Amaretto (almond liqueur) and champagne, and one with Pama (pomegranate liqueur) and champagne.

The pear liqueur took on a beautiful amber color, by the way, perhaps from the cinnamon and cloves.
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No recipe is really needed for these cocktails, because to me it’s all about how sweet you want the drink. My pear liqueur recipe was made with vodka. But it’s definitely more a liqueur than an infused vodka, because vodka is strong and I wanted something more flavorful and sweeter.

So for the pear and champagne fizz, I used about 1 part pear liqueur to 3 parts champagne. Prosecco would work just as well.


The champagne I used was Sofia. I happened to have a carton of the mini champagne cans that come with a straw. I love to put these out for parties year round, and I much preferred opening up a couple of these than a whole bottle of champagne in the middle of the day for testing purposes.
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For the pear and Amaretto fizz, I used about equal parts of each, then topped it off with champagne. It’s just a little more amber in color.
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Same for the Pama version, which not surprisingly came out a little more red.
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so, the verdict? terrible. I might have waited too long on the liqueur, because there is a strong bitterness that is probably from the cinnamon and cloves. I can’t even taste the pear. So I’m going to let my husband drink this, and go back to gin and tonics for now.

Spiced Pear Liqueur

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I’ve been making liqueurs for years, especially in the fall so that they are ready for gift giving at Christmas time. Initially inspired by this adorable book, I began by following recipes, and have since realized that recipes aren’t really critical at all when making a liqueur.
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This book is still available on Amazon. The author is Mary Aurea Morris, and it was published in 1999.

You have to decide on the spirit you want to use, decide on the sweetness level, and then the flavor. Vodka is my go-to spirit for most all of my liqueurs, because of its “neutral” flavor. When I refer to the sweetness of the liqueur, I’m of course referring to the amount of sugar. A simply infused vodka, for example, is to me a liquor, not a liqueur. A liqueur is sweeter, and much more to my liking.

Fruits are fabulous in home-made liqueurs. Since I started my blog, I’ve posted on black cherry vodka, and strawberry vodka. Hands down, my favorite of all time is the strawberry version.

But besides berries and cranberries, citrus fruits, pomegranates, and just about all tree fruits can be used. (note to self – peach vodka next summer!)

So this fall I decided to make a pear variety. The recipe is quite simple, and is definitely less expensive than the popular Poire William. But it will be about 6 weeks before the big reveal.

Spiced Pear Liqueur

1/2 cup sugar
Small handful whole cloves
Small handful whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 ripe pear, I used red D’anjou
Few pieces of orange peel
Vodka, approximately 3 cups

Place the sugar, cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks in a large, clean bottling jar with a lid. Slice up the pear, avoiding the core, and place wedges into the jar. Add the orange peel.

Using a funnel, pour vodka until it reaches the top. I used approximately 3 cups. Shake well until the sugar dissolves. Then store away.


I’ve marked my calendar for 4 weeks to test out the liqueur, but I’m pretty sure another 2 weeks after that will be necessary.

note: The only disaster liqueur I’ve made is one with hazelnuts, and I’d even followed an exact recipe. I ended up with a bunch of soggy drunk bit of hazelnuts, and nothing to speak of as far as the liquid. Don’t bother.
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Ancho-Spiced Bloody Mary

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As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I was inspired to make an ancho chile pepper infused vodka, by the discovery of Ancho Reyes, an ancho chile liqueur. I wasn’t inspired to make a chile pepper liqueur, but a vodka, on the other hand, was really intriguing to me.

I proceeded to make the ancho, chipotle, and coffee flavored vodka, and waited one week. It was finally time for the unveiling.

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The vodka has a beautiful reddish-brown color to it, and had a nice chile pepper aroma. I decided to keep things simple, and just mix this home-made vodka with a bloody Mary mix I enjoy, which is called Zing Zang.

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So here’s what I did:

Ancho-Spiced Bloody Mary
To make 1 drink

Lime and Salt for the rim, if you like your bloody Marys salted
2-4 ounces of the vodka, strained
Your favorite bloody Mary mix
Spear of jicama, optional
Garlic-stuffed olives, optional

Run a slice of lime over the rim of the glass. Sprinkle some salt in a small plate, and dip the top of the glass into the salt.

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Then add your preferred amount of the ancho-infused vodka.

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Fill up the rest of the glass with the chilled bloody Mary mix. Actually, if you prefer, you can include ice before you begin making the drink.

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For fun, I added a spear of jicama.

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As well as a few jalapeno slices and garlic-stuffed olives.
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verdict: This was a surprisingly successful vodka experiment! The bloody Mary was fabulous. The next time I might add two more chipotle peppers, and definitely include coffee beans. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any other drink that this vodka would be good in, but perhaps some of you have some suggestions?

Ancho-Infused Vodka

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A while back on Facebook, which is so educational and such a good use of my time, I discovered a post on Ancho Reyes – an ancho chile-based liqueur! I had mixed emotions when I discovered this. First of all, I really wanted to try it. Secondly, I was wondering why I’d never thought of it.

I reposted the link to this liqueur on Facebook, and not surprisingly, my friend Richard from REM Cooks messaged me and wrote, “I wonder if I can make this?!!”

See? Facebook isn’t a total waste of time!

I thought I’d leave the ancho chile pepper liqueur to Richard. However, I talked to my husband about making an infused vodka with dried chile peppers instead. And surprisingly, he mentioned that it would be good in a bloody Mary!!! He doesn’t even drink bloody Marys!

Then I couldn’t quit thinking about this vodka or the Bloody Marys. So I made it. Here’s what I did.

Ancho-Infused Vodka with a Touch of Chipotle

1 750 ml bottle Voli coffee-infused vodka
2 ancho chile peppers
2 chipotle peppers

First let me say that I’ve owned this coffee-infused vodka for years. I’ve been too scared to use it seriously for a night time cocktail, for fear that I’d never get to sleep. I have no idea if it causes a caffeine buzz, but I don’t want to find out the hard way. I like sleeping. So, this vodka really needed to get used.

And what better vodka to go with a chile pepper flavor than coffee?!!! There are many versions of rubs for steaks that include both ground chile peppers as well as coffee powder, so I thought that the combination would be perfect. If I hadn’t used the infused vodka, I would have added a few crushed coffee beans to the recipe.

And the chipotles? They’re just my favorite flavor when it comes to dried chile peppers, and the smokiness will really enhance the anchos.

I thought about other ingredients like a cinnamon stick or a few allspice berries, but nixed them. Maybe for the liqueur, but not for the vodka. Especially for a bloody Mary.

I even thought about bay leaves and garlic, but decided to keep it simple.

So I got out the ancho chile peppers and the two smaller chipotle chiles.
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I removed all four stems, and then cut the peppers into strips.
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I placed them in a clean bottle.
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Using a funnel, I poured the coffee-infused vodka into the bottle.
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Then I closed her up and decided to store the bottle for one week. If the vodka is too chile-flavored, I can always “thin” it with more vodka, but I wanted the infusion to really count.
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In case you’re interested, here’s the Ancho Reyes website for the liqueur. There are even cocktail suggestions. But no bloody Mary! Stay tuned for that!

Gingerbread Liqueur Verdict

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Let me start out with my verdict for home-made gingerbread liqueur: Fabulous, Delicious, and Magnificent!

I first strained the liqueur to remove the ginger and the other goodies.
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It’s very brown.
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To test it out, I decided to make two drinks. First, a room temperature cocktail, although ice can be added, and a hot toddy using coffee.

1. Creamy Gingerbread Cocktail

To make one:
3 ounces gingerbread liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla syrup
4 ounces 1/2 and 1/2
Sparkling water

Place the liqueur, vanilla syrup and the 1/2 and 1/2 in a cocktail glass.

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Then add the sparkling water, about 4 ounces at least, depending how strong you want the drink.
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It’s kind of like an alcoholic gingerbread-flavored Italian soda.
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You can really taste the gingerbread flavors. And I don’t even love gingerbread! My husband said it was the best drink he’s ever had.

I especially like the addition of the vanilla. In fact, I’m now wondering why I didn’t include a vanilla bean in the gingerbread liqueur.

note: You could also add some vodka to this cocktail; I just don’t like really strong drinks.

2. Café Liégeois on Crack

To make one:
1 teaspoon good espresso powder, or 1 cup good, hot coffee, freshly brewed
3 ounces gingerbread liqueur
Vanilla ice cream

Place the espresso powder in a heat-proof cup and add hot water. Give it a stir, then stir in the liqueur. Using a scoop, add ice cream.
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I was quite generous with the ice cream. And boy, did it start melting fast.
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And, almost completely melted.
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What a fabulous, creamy hot toddy. The addition of the coffee with the gingerbread liqueur is outstanding. Creme de cacao would also be a wonderful addition to either of these drinks. So many drink ideas, so little time….

Gingerbread Liqueur

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Well, it is that time of year after all. With pumpkins, cranberries and sugar plums dancing in my head. So many fabulous flavors to enjoy during the holidays. Eggnog is another favorite of mine. Less favorite is gingerbread. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not part of the top ten on my holiday favorite foods and flavors.

However, I happened to have come across a gingerbread liqueur from a blog last year, and I’ve been saving it until now. For once, I actually know from whose blog this recipe came – it’s from Boozed and Infused!

As always, since you’d have to point a gun at me to follow a recipe to the letter, I changed things up slightly. I just can’t help myself.

So here’s what I did; you can check out the original recipe on Alicia’s blog!

Gingerbread Liqueur

1 large piece of ginger, enough to provide about 1/2 cup diced ginger
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 whole allspice, broken
5 cloves
Good sprinkle fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup coffee-infused vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup spiced rum

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Trim the ginger of its peel. Finely chop the ginger.
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In a microwaveable bowl, add the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.
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Then pour in the molasses and add the brown sugar. Give it a stir, then heat in the microwave for just a minute.
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I would have actually added all of the just-used ingredients to a mini blender and emulsified them, but my stupid Magic Bullet wasn’t working properly. It should still work out just fine, however. Although the liqueur might have been “done” after only one week instead of two…

Make sure the sugar has completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool somewhat, then add the vodka, brandy, and rum.
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Stir well, then pour into a pint jar and seal. Store in a dark place for two weeks.

Verdict? Tomorrow!

Cherry Vodka Verdict

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It’s time!!! After two months of hiding in a pantry, the black cherry vodka is ready!

I decanted both liter bottles and collected the beautiful cherry-colored vodka, and saved the cherries. As with the strawberry vodka experience in the spring, this vodka-making process took a lot of the color out of the fruit. The cherries look a lot like the pale cherries you get from canned varieties. But I still might use them, if they’re not too alcoholic. I’m thinking of goat’s milk ice cream with cherries and cocoa nibs…
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Anyway, I mixed some of the cherry vodka with my usual mixer – Fresca. There’s just something about the grapefruity-ness that I like. I prefer it over the citrus-y varieties of soda.

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It was very refreshing. However, not nearly as good as the strawberry vodka. But I used less sugar, so that may be why. Still, it was fun, and it would be great in some kind of pretty punch as well – even at Christmas time. Although, I also make cranberry vodka. Maybe I’ll just mix them all together for a merry berry vodka!!! Cheers!
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Black Cherry Vodka

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My spring foray into flavor-infused vodka was so successful, with sweet strawberry vodka, that I decided to make a summer variety as well! And of course, that means cherries.

So following a very similar recipe, but this time with less sugar and much more time, I now give you black cherry vodka. Unfortunately it will be a couple of months before the verdict is out, but I have a feeling that it will be a good one!

Black Cherry Vodka

First rinse off the cherries and dry them overnight on paper towels or a clean dish cloth.

Remove the stems. I began by halving the cherries.

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Until I remembered that I owned a cherry/olive pitter!!! Thank goodness for such a smart purchase!
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Pit the cherries, which also opens them up in the middle, so halving is unnecessary, and place them in as many sterilized bottles that you want full of cherry vodka.

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Add approximately 1 tablespoon of extra-fine sugar to each bottle.
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Then fill the bottles with vodka.
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Give the bottles a gentle shake to insure that the sugar is dissolved. Cover the bottles with sterilized lids, and place them in a dark place for two months. Then cross your fingers.
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Cranberry Vodka

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I’ve made cranberry liqueur before – I mean, you have to for the holidays. It’s so pretty! But, I’ve never made a cranberry vodka before. And, I’ve never used cooked cranberries in a liqueur, either. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.

The recipe belongs to Michael Chiarello, and I found it on www.foodnetwork.com. So here’s the recipe, although I’m going to type it up differently, because there’s a definitely mistake in it:

Cranberry Vodka

1 pound cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used the bean, split, with the seeds removed)
1 bottle of vodka (his recipe says 1 bottle of tonic!)

Place the cranberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and stir. Simmer cranberry mixture until the berries burst, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Divide mixture in half and pour into large, clean mason jars. Pour vodka into the jars to cover the berries. Set aside and allow to sit for 1 week. After 1 week, strain out the cranberries and store cranberry vodka in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

To serve: Pour 2 ounces of vodka mixture over ice in a tall glass and top with tonic. Garnish with a slice of lime. I plan on using the cranberry vodka in a vodka tonic, or add cream to it for a creamy cranberry martini!

note: This vodka is very sweet. The next time I use this recipe, I’m going to cut the sugar in half.