Gilligan's Sorbet Will Warm Your Heart … Even in the Middle of Winter

Ann Gilligan’s frozen treats are so smooth and flavorful you’ll crave them all year long.

photo by erin kelly


Snack time in February usually calls for something warm, perhaps hot cocoa or a steamy cup of chicken noodle soup. However, I’m so smitten with Gilligan’s Sorbet, scooped fresh at Mayfly Market on the North Side and sold in glass jars at several local markets, that it doesn’t matter what the outside temperature is. Spoonfuls of flavors such as spicy mulled wine, savory-sweet salted caramel, bright clementine and rich chocolate are the perfect way to cheer up a gray winter day.

Five years ago, Ann Gilligan, who owns both the sorbet business and the Mayfly Market, felt mired in a corporate job. Her aunt, who sells sorbet in northern California, suggested she start making the frozen treat as a creative outlet. That hobby turned into weekly samples for her Wednesday bowling crew and, later, landed as a feature on the dessert menu at Pines Tavern in Gibsonia. Gilligan researched and experimented with recipes — looking to cocktail menus for flavor profile inspiration — and, convinced she could turn her pastime into a business, purchased a Carpigiani sorbet blender and dove in.

Gilligan’s sorbets are so creamy that someone who eats a vegan diet might be taken aback for a second, but the only ingredients she uses are water, sugar and flavorings such as fruit juice and herbs. Gilligan credits Trinidad Schlotterbeck, owner of Chile-based Patagonia Infusion, for helping her achieve that level of consistency; Schlotterbeck taught Gilligan how to read a refractometer, a device that measures sugar content, while she was in Pittsburgh for a month-long Global Pittsburgh residency with Gilligan last autumn. Now, Gilligan can individually balance the water to sugar ratio in each batch before freezing.

Sure, you could wait until summer to indulge in what traditionally is a warm-weather delight. But I’m not planning on letting snow, sleet and frigid winds stop me.

Categories: Eat + Drink Features