Harry’s Bar in Venice is famous for inventing the Bellini, and for its customers. While Harry’s Bar isn’t really on your itinerary when you are seeing Venice with
The bar, the drink, the legend
Giuseppe Cipriani opened Harry’s Bar in 1931 and named it after his friend and supporter, Harry Pickering. The bar was an instant success. It is known for creating the Bellini and carpaccio, and for the international stars who have frequented the establishment for decades: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Charly Chaplin, Orson Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, Truman Capote and George Clooney, not to forget Ernest Hemmingway who wrote of the bar in his novel, “Across the River and
In 2001, the Italian Ministry of Culture declared Harry’s Bar to be a national monument.
Giuseppe Cipriani created the Bellini in 1948. It was originally just a way to use some of the sweet seasonal peaches. He named it after Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini, whose work was being exhibited at the time. Apparently, the drink reminded him of the painter’s favourite colour palette.
How to make a Bellini
Originally, the Bellini had two ingredients:
- flat, white ‘vineyard’ peaches, which are in season at the moment, and
- prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine.
Cipriani didn’t even puree the peaches at first. He just cut them into small pieces. The puree came when he was trying to make larger volumes of the drink, as did the addition of the sugar syrup.
Sugar syrup – not just for the Raspbellini
Sugar syrup is so easy to make and is great to have on hand at this time of the year. You can whip it out whenever you feel like a cocktail, or use it to sweeten your tea. It stores well – add a shot of vodka to the finished syrup if you want it to last longer.
Sugar syrup recipe
I work with a 1:1 sugar to water ratio. Dissolve the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the lid on the saucepan and slowly simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
Brown sugar adds a lovely, slightly earthy caramel taste to your sugar syrup, but the syrup will be darker. I tend to use half a cup of white and half a cup of brown sugar, to get the best of both
If you don’t have any sugar syrup preprepared, you can make some in a shaker as many barkeepers do. Just add equal parts of sugar and water to a cocktail shaker and shake (and shake) until the sugar dissolves. This sugar syrup won’t have the syrupy texture, but it will definitely serve its purpose.
When I was double-checking the prosecco to peach puree proportions, I came across a recipe that suggested adding a dash of Chambord to the glass. Raspberry. Mmmm. Why not add some raspberries to the peach puree?
And thus the Tea with Mum Raspbellini was born (see what I did there?)
So, how do you make a Raspbellini?
Tips on how to make a (Rasp)Bellini
If you can‘t get the vineyard peaches, use any white peaches (or yellow ones if it is all that you have available).
If peaches aren’t availabl
Just do a taste test it before you add any sugar syrup so that you don’t accidentally make it the drink too sweet and overpower the peaches.
Likewise, any sparkling wine will do if you cannot get prosecco. I used sparkling rosé wine, just for fun. Yum!
Just make sure that your sparkling wine is cold!
If you have the time, peel the peaches. It won’t hurt if you leave the skin on, but the puree will not be as smooth.
A potato peeler that is designed for tomatoes (so, a tomato peeler?) it will work great on peaches. We have this one from Triangle, a great little company with beautifully designed kitchen tools. Coincidently, it is just around the corner from where we live.
Be careful if you are peeling the peaches over a rubbish or compost bin. They get very slippery and tend to dive in.
The lemon juice keeps the puree fresh so that you can make it ahead of time.
If you have time and patience, you can strain the puree. I had neither, so I just used it as is. It did not affect the taste but there are some raspberry seeds in the bottom of the glass.
A toast to Queen of the Adriatic
The Raspbellini is not only a nod to a great day in Venice, but is a fantastic as a brunch treat or with high tea.
You can also serve it as an aperitif. Go Italian and serve it with some green olives and crisps, just like all the good Italian bars do.
Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go and enjoy this balmy evening and my Raspbellini!
- 2 vineyard peaches (or whatever peaches are available)
- a small handful of raspberries
- juice from half a lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar syrup
- sparkling (rosé) wine
- If you have time, peel your peaches and remove the stones.
- Place the peaches, raspberries and lemon juice in a blender and mix until it forms a puree. Add the sugar syrup bit by bit, until you reach your preferred level of sweetness.
- If you have time: strain the puree and set aside.
- Pour (about 20ml of) the puree into two glasses and top with sparkling wine.