SUMMER is finally here, so we may as well make the most of every last second of the sunny days that we get.

While the weather is nice outside, there is nothing better than kicking back with a delicious frozen dessert or an ice cold cocktail; just keeping cool, catching some sun rays and chilling out.

One thing we Italians know how to do is relax in the sunshine. The other thing we know how to do is make the most of our food and drink.

When we find a way to combine the two, you know we are on to a winning combination.

I started thinking about delicious summer desserts and cocktails, and then I thought of something that combined the two: sgroppino.

Sgroppino is a cocktail, combining alcohol with lemon sorbet to give you a sort of alcoholic slush drink, like the kind you used to have when you were a kid. It combines the cool bittersweet taste of the icy lemon sorbet with bubbly prosecco, topped off with a vodka kick.

According to folklore, Nero, the Roman Emperor, invented sorbet during the first century AD.

Apparently he had people along the Appian way collect buckets of snow and pass them, hand-to-hand, from the mountains to his banquet hall, where it would be mixed with honey and wine before being served.

The sgroppino cocktail originated in Venice. The name comes from the word sgropin, which, in the Venetian dialect, means "to untie a little knot" – referring to the feeling you have in your stomach after eating a big meal.

The drink was served to aristocrats as an interlude between very different, refined courses at dinner, dating as far back as 1528. This would cleanse the diner’s palate between dishes, so that the flavour of the previous dish had no effect on the one that followed it.

The great news is that if you do not drink alcohol, you can just as easily make the sorbet and enjoy it as a dessert instead. So you can serve it between courses at dinner parties, or just kick back in the garden with a glass/bowl on a hot summer day.

If you fancy trying a flavour other than lemon, I’ve tweaked the recipe to make orange, watermelon or lime sorbet, so you can try making different flavours and see which one you like best.

My recipe is quick and easy to make, and can be done with or without an ice cream maker.

And a sgroppino cocktail is so simple to make, and yet it looks like something fresh out of a city-centre cocktail bar, especially when you garnish it with mint leaves and serve it in a champagne glass.

Give it a go, and try making different flavours to see which one your family and friends like best.

• Have you missed any of Nick’s previous La Dolce Vita articles in the Keighley News? Then visit, click on What’s On then Food & Drink, to find lots of his recipes.