The Bellini: The classic cocktail born at Harry’s Bar in Venice

The Bellini, one of Italy’s most famous cocktails, is made ​​with sparkling white wine (Prosecco) and pureed white peaches (succo di pesca).

The well-loved drink was invented in Italy in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, head bartender and owner of perhaps the most famous bar in the world: Harry’s Bar, in Venice. (Carpaccio was also invented there by Cipriani.) The shade of pink of the Bellini reminded Cipriani of the color of a saint’s toga in a painting by Giovanni Bellini, hence the name, “Bellini.”

The drink became a seasonal specialty at Harry’s Bar, an institution since 1931 and a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, Alfred Hitchcock, and Orson Welles. It later became popular in New York, after a French entrepreneur established a means for transporting white peach puree between Venice and New York.

If you can’t make it to Venice for the original, here is a simple recipe that we like:

2/3 cup white peach puree (yellow peaches work if white not available)
1 teaspoon raspberry puree (adds to the pink color)
1 bottle chilled Prosecco

Add a heaping tablespoon of the puree mixture to the bottom of a champagne flute.  Slowly pour in the Prosecco. Tip: Although you can substitute other Italian sparkling white wines such as Asti Spumante Brut for the Prosecco, don’t use champagne as its flavor is not a good match for the sweet peach juice.


Image By crazybobbles from London, England (Bellini at Harry’s Bar), via Wikimedia Commons