When Giuseppe Cipriani first served the Bellini in Harry's Bar in Venice, he had no idea how successful it would eventually become. Over time the original recipe has seen countless variations, mainly due to the limited availability of white peaches and Prosecco.
Some of those variations are the Puccini (replacing peach purée with mandarin juice), Rossini (replacing peach with strawberry purée), and the Tintoretto (using pomegranate juice instead of peaches). Also, the Prosecco often 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.
So, if 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, unfortunately, different sources stating different years, so it's hard to tell right from wrong. 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.
When picking the name of the drink, 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, 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 Cipriani
Arrigo also indicated that his father was obsessed with the idea to create 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 in to one of his cocktails.
"…my father had a predilection for the white ones. So much so, 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."Arrigo Cipriani
And finally, one of his experiments, puréed white peaches with Prosecco, was an instant success. At first, the drink became a seasonal offering only. But as people kept asking for it, Giuseppe had to put it on the bar menu permanently.
Fun fact: Giuseppe Cipriani not only created a cocktail nowadays listed by the IBA, but he also invented one of the most popular Italian dishes - the Carpaccio.
The Ingredients of a Bellini cocktail
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 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 just prefer a bubbly Prosecco over a semi-sparkling, and on top, you always lose a bit of sparkling when mixing it with other ingredients like our white peach purée.The same recommendation applies to another famous Prosecco drink, the Aperol Spritz.
Speaking of the white peach purée, you can also make the Bellini cocktail with peach nectar instead of purée. And to still achieve the desired color, some also add raspberry or cherry juice.
- 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.