How to Make a Bellini, the Effervescent Peach and Prosecco Cocktail That Isn’t Just for Brunch

How to Make a Bellini, the Effervescent Peach and Prosecco Cocktail That Isn’t Just for Brunch
Courtesy of Esquire

For when you can't fly to Venice and sip one at Harry's Bar. 

The origin stories of the classic cocktails tend to fascinate us in the cocktail world, but it is rare for us to experience them first hand. Some drinks were invented at certain bars, but they're rarely still around, and when they're, they're almost always Disney-fied versions of themselves, and even if they haven't, the versions they serve are almost never good. In Venice, however, if you're lucky enough to be struck by that special blend of historical reverence and financial irreverence, then you can have a Bellini at Harry's Bar.

The Harry's Bar, located at the mouth of the Grand Canal, is located a block west of Piazza San Marco on Calle Vallaresso. As a result of their international fame, their prices have skyrocketed and they have expanded upstairs, but such is the price of history.

Under the hospitality of Harry's Bar's owner and barman, Giuseppe Cipriani, in the 1930s, the cream of European society visited Venice. In addition, it attracted anglophiles to its name, which was remarkably similar to another world-famous Paris bar at the time, Harry’s New York Bar. It didn't matter: The quality of the food made it popular not only with wealthy locals and well-to-do tourists, but later with film stars and other celebrities as well. Harry's became famous when Hemingway chose it as his favorite spot in 1949. Due to its fame, their Coca Cola costs 13 euros.

There was a glut of white peaches in Cipriani's kitchen sometime in the late 1930s, and he didn't know how to store them. The muses must’ve whispered to him, so he whipped up a puree and added it to Prosecco, and one of the best sparkling wine cocktails in the world was born. For almost a decade, his drink remained unnamed. After seeing the cocktail's pink hue reflected in Renaissance paintings, Cipriani christened it the Bellini in 1948, in a particularly Italian flourish. As a brilliant touch of summer sweetness before dinner, Cipriani also invented the raw beef dish carpaccio, also named after a Renaissance artist. They were served then, as they are now, in 6 ounce juice glasses.


The high prices are something I've discussed three times now, and if that sounds like overkill to you, then it just means that you've never used it. In the last 10 years, I challenge you to find five online reviews that do not complain about Harry's Bar's eye-watering cost; in fact, there are thousands of online reviews that mention it.

The small Bellini costs 15 euros when I went in 2012, but since 2019, it costs 22 euros. It's like meeting someone in an alley and paying 120% more for the toy of the year at Christmas time. Other than the Bellinis at Harry's Bar in Venice, which are quite good if you can mute your brain's allergic reaction to getting scammed, I have no idea what else to say.

Summer practically begs for Bellinis, which you can easily make at home. White peaches in June and July are transcendent, and sparkling wine is just a couple pours away. It is possible to drink a Bellini anywhere in the world, as Cipriani invented the drink during the 1940s, so you don't have to go to Harry's Bar in Venice to have one. Try it out.


  • 1.5 oz. white peach puree
  • 4.5 oz. Prosecco

In a separate shaker or container, combine Prosecco with peach puree. Once foam subsides, pour into frozen glassware and enjoy.


Courtesy of Ivan Palumbo

It is less important to use a specific brand of sparkling wine here because the sweet-tart peach puree is the star. In contrast to Cava or Champagne, Prosecco is traditional, and not just because it's a classic. Champagne and Cava have been bottle-conditioned, giving them a bready complexity that's not needed or distracting. This is an ideal place for Prosecco, with its light, bright fruit and florals.

There are a number of brands worth mentioning here: I've done quite a bit of work with Perfect Puree's white peach puree, which is excellent. My experience with Funkin's passionfruit is pretty good, so I hope their peach will be as good as it was with their passionfruit.

If you have yellow peaches, eat them and drink just Prosecco alone, its July. Buy white peaches. White nectarines work too, but they're not as good.

If you want to make a puree, you'll need to smash it and strain it. Mashing is pretty easy, because ripe peaches bruise if you frown at them. A potato masher or muddler will work well. According to Harry's themselves, food processors aerate fruit, which I think is silly, and you shouldn't hesitate to use one if you have one. If I'm missing something subtle here, it doesn't matter since it'll be mixed with Prosecco and strained before serving.

The straining process is a little more tedious. You can use a cheese cloth, or a sieve, but that will take time. You can shorten the straining process dramatically by filling milk nut bags with blended liquid and pressing them together. Even though I know you're going to spend $15 on this tool, I still consider it a steal considering that's half the price of one Bellini at Harry's.

In addition, if your peaches are too ripe and your Prosecco is too sweet, you might need to add a touch of simple syrup or lemon juice to the mix, but chances are it will still be good just as it is. If not, you may have to tweak it.

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