When Giuseppe Cipriani first served the Bellini Cocktail in Harry's Bar in Venice, he had no idea how successful it would eventually become.
Over time the recipe -Prosecco mixed with white peach puree- has seen countless variations, mainly due to the limited availability of the original ingredients.
Some of those variations are the Puccini cocktail (replacing peach purée with mandarin juice), Rossini (replacing peach with strawberry purée), and the Tintoretto (using pomegranate juice instead of peaches).
Ingredients of the Bellini cocktail
To make an authentic Bellini cocktail, you need Italian sparkling wine, preferably Prosecco, and the puree of white peaches.
Prosecco is an Italian DOC or DOCG type of sparkling wine. The DOC and DOCG are classifications that legally protect wines from Italy.
It's produced in 9 provinces in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions and is named after the village of Prosecco.
Almost every Prosecco you will find is either spumante or frizzante (sparkling or semi-sparkling), but it's also available as tranquillo, a still version.
For our Bellini cocktail, I recommend using sparkling (spumante) Prosecco.
I prefer a bubbly Prosecco over a semi-sparkling. Plus, you always lose a bit of sparkling when mixing it with other ingredients like our white peach purée. By the way, the same applies to another famous Prosecco drink, the Aperol Spritz.
Sometimes Prosecco gets replaced by other types of sparkling wine. However, I want to note that some of the more flavorful ones, like Champagne, take away from the delicate taste of the peach purée.
White peaches are what give the Bellini cocktail its beautiful color.
Unlike regular peaches, the fruit flesh is not yellow but white with a deep red surrounding the stone. When skinned, pitted, and blended, these red bits and white flesh mix together and create that elegant pale, peachy orange.
In some supermarkets, you can get pre-packed white peach puree. And as long as it's unsweetened and 100% fruit, that works perfectly in a Bellini.
If you can't get white peaches, you can also make the Bellini cocktail with peach nectar instead of purée. To still achieve the peachy color, you can add a splash of raspberry or cherry juice.
However, whenever possible, stick to the original recipe and celebrate the taste of fresh and ripe white peaches.
History of the Bellini cocktail
The Bellini cocktail got created somewhere between 1934 and 1948. There are different sources stating different years, so it's hard to tell the exact date.
However, sticking with Cipriani Drinks, the drink was first served in 1948. Cipriani Drinks does belong to the Cipriani Inc. company and is named after Giuseppe Cipriani, the inventor of the Bellini.
When picking the name for his cocktail, Cipriani got inspired by the famous Italian painter Giovanni Bellini.
In one of his most iconic paintings, a toga worn by a Saint is of a unique pink color. A shade quite similar to the one of the Bellini cocktail. His son Arrigo once stated:
"I had no idea at the time that the pink glow my father had so admired in one of Bellini's paintings would be the inspiration for his famous cocktail."
Arrigo also indicated that his father was obsessed with the idea of creating a drink incorporating white peaches.
Peaches are available throughout the whole summer, all over Italy. But it was the white peaches specifically that Giuseppe was trying to bring into one of his cocktails.
"…my father had a predilection for the white ones. So much, in fact, that he kept wondering whether there was a way to transform this magic fragrance into a drink he could offer at Harry's Bar."
And finally, one of his experiments, puréed white peaches with Prosecco, became a success.
At first, the drink became a seasonal offering only. But as people kept asking for it, Giuseppe put it on the bar menu permanently.
On a side note: Giuseppe Cipriani not only created a cocktail listed by the IBA, but he also invented one of the most popular Italian dishes - the Carpaccio.
- 1 Jigger
- 4.5 oz Prosecco spumante
- 1.5 oz White peach purée
- For the peach purée: rinse your white peaches and start mashing them with their peels. Use a fork or potato masher, and mash until you achieve a nice balance of juice and fruit pulp.
- Add the purée into a Champagne flute and top with Prosecco.1.5 oz White peach purée, 4.5 oz Prosecco spumante
- Gently stir the drink before serving.