If you’ve been to Harry’s Bar in Venice, most certainly you’ve had a peach bellini! The first time I went to Venice in 1982, I made a beeline for Harry’s Bar. But you don’t have to go all the way to Venice to enjoy this lovely prosecco cocktail!
As an English major in college, I wanted to see the romantic city Ernest Hemingway had loved and written about, and Harry’s bar where he had his own booth.
I couldn’t afford a Harry’s Bar bellini then, as I was doing Europe on $5 a Day, but I remember visiting this iconic Venetian landmark, and being charmed by the beauty and light of Venice. (As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
Fast forward 40 years and my husband and I headed to Florence to visit my daughter who was studying abroad. I couldn’t wait to visit Venice again and Harry’s Bar.
This time we’d have bellinis! I’m not going to lie, they were expensive! 22 euros for a glass! But we sat at the bar anyway for a once in a lifetime experience. I took copious mental notes, and a few photos, so I could try to replicate this iconic prosecco cocktail at home.
What is a bellini?
Very simply, a bellini is a light and refreshing cocktail comprised of just two ingredients; prosecco and peach puree. If the white peaches are perfectly ripe, there will be no need to add any simple syrup, as they will be sweet enough.
What’s the difference between a bellini and a mimosa?
While both are typically served at brunch or other festive occasions, there are two differences. A bellini is made with peach puree and prosecco, and a mimosa is made with sparkling wine or champagne and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Where did the bellini originate?
The original bellini from Harry’s Bar in Venice was created by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948.
Cipriani had a predilection for white peaches which are only in season in Italy from June until September. He mixed it with prosecco, (the champagne of Italy), and the bellini was born. Read more about the bellini on the Cipriano website.
What ingredients do you need for a peach bellini cocktail?
Traditionally white peaches are used in a peach bellini. There are lots of recipes that use regular peaches, but just be aware that yellow peaches are not used at Harry’s Bar in Venice. While the bellini will still be delicious, it won’t be completely authentic. But of course there is the prosecco. As with most Italian products, there are strict regulations on what can be labeled “prosecco“.
Just like champagne, which is only grown in the Champagne region of France, prosecco is similar in that you’ll want to find a prosecco that has either a DOC, or DOCG label. This guarantees you’ll be getting a product from Italy. If you cannot find DOC prosecco, you can substitute sparkling white wine or champagne. Just be sure to purchase the best quality you can find. You can read more about prosecco, the meaning of DOC and DOCG at a day trip to Valdobbiadene, which is just an hour from Venice.
When are white peaches in season?
White peaches are in season in most of the northern hemisphere from June until September. You can also buy peach puree or use frozen white peaches if you want to make a peach bellini when white peaches are not in season.
What kind of glass is used for a peach bellini?
The glass used at Harry’s Bar is not a champagne flute, but rather a shorter stemless flute. But of course you can always use a flute or a coupe champagne glass.
Testing the Harry’s Bar Peach Bellini
I’m not going to say this part was hard. Returning from Venice in April, the first thing I wanted to do was make a bellini. I tested this recipe no less than 4 times. Since white peaches are not in season in April, I ordered bartender’s white peach puree from Amazon. The flavor was close, but the color was dull. AND, would someone want to spend $28 on frozen peach puree? The flavor didn’t warrant the cost, in my opinion.
The next step was trying frozen white peaches. This was a closer in flavor, but the color still wasn’t the pale peachy pink color of the Harry’s Bar Bellini. I really was striving for a close match in both color, and flavor without straying too far from the original recipe.
Back to the original recipe, this time, when white peaches were in season, I followed the instructions to a tee. But they are vague. The recipes instruct you to “mash the peaches with a china cap (“chinoise”) or potato masher”. This method resulted in a bellini that was too pulpy and a bit bitter. Back to wikipedia for another go at the “original” recipe which used cherry juice. I decided to add just a teaspoon to some of the peach puree.
Maybe that was the secret to the pale pink, distinctive peach hue, I was striving for? But again I circled back to the cost. Would anyone want to spend seven dollars for a bottle of pure cherry juice for just a few teaspoons? You can see below both versions. Is the color difference that important?
Finally I decided to remove the peels. But would removing the skin would result in a colorless puree? I blanched them briefly in boiling water. The skins slip off easily with this method. I put the peaches in the food processor and pureed them until smooth.
This was it! The color was perfect. The pink hue around the pit was just enough to give the puree that pale pink color. Best yet, the brief blanching brought out the sweetness. The resulting puree was so sweet I knew I wouldn’t need to add any simple syrup to the mixture.
Once I found the perfect peach puree, I followed the rest of the Cipriani recipe which is 1 part peach puree to 3 parts prosecco. Three peaches gave me one cup of puree, and a bottle of prosecco is about 25 ounces, so that would be the perfect ratio.
Can I make the puree ahead of time?
Once I came up with the perfect recipe, I decided to see if I could refrigerate the peach puree ahead of time. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 1/3 of a cup of peach puree. 4 hours later, the color was still intact.
Can I freeze the puree?
If you’re planning on freezing the peach puree, add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of the puree to help preserve the color.
How do you make a peach bellini?
This is where a lot of recipes you will find on the internet are wrong. Lots of recipes use yellow peaches, and most add the peach puree to each glass and then top with prosecco. That’s not how it’s done at Harry’s Bar. First the bartender lined up the glasses on the bar. He filled each glass about 1/3 filled with prosecco, then topped each glass with the peach and prosecco mixture.
Choose ripe, but not mushy, or bruised peaches. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a small bowl with cold water and some ice cubes. Cut an “X” in the bottom of each peach. This will allow the skin to be easily removed once you’ve blanched the peaches. Drop the peaches in the boiling water and blanch for about 60 seconds. Remove from the boiling water and drop into the ice water.
When cool, peel each peach and discard the peels and pits. In a food processor or blender, puree the peaches until they are smooth. You should end up with about 1 cup.
Pour 1 cup of peach puree into a large pitcher.
Add about 1/2 of a bottle of prosecco and gently stir to mix prosecco and peach puree.
Evenly divide the remaining prosecco between 4 or 5 glasses. You can see the bartender adds prosecco the the glasses first.
Then top with peach/prosecco mixture. Serve immediately.
Can I make a non-alcoholic version of a peach bellini?
Absolutely! Instead of prosecco, substitute sparkling water or sparkling apple cider. Use the same proportions of 1 part peach puree to 3 parts sparkling water.
Looking for more cocktails?
Another lovely pink drink is Kir Royale. This classic French drink is made with champagne and creme de cassis. Take a trip to Mexico with this classic 3-2-1 Margarita.
- 1 pound white peaches (about 3) peeled.
- 1 bottle prosecco DOC or DOCG
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. With a sharp knife, cut an x in the bottom of each peach.
- When the water comes to a boil. Drop the peaches in the boiling water. After 1 minute, remove the peaches from the boiling water and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking. This will allow you to remove the skins easily.
- In a food processor or blender, puree the peaches until they are smooth. This should yield about 1 cup of peach puree.
- Pour about 1/2 of the bottle of prosecco into a cocktail shaker or pitcher. Stir in 1 cup of peach puree and gently mix.
- Divide the remaining prosecco between 4 or 5 glasses. Then top with bellini mixture.
- If white peaches are not in season, you can substitute frozen white or yellow peaches.
- If you’d like a “peachier” color add 1 teaspoon of pure cherry juice to each glass.
- The puree can be made ahead of time. To preserve the color add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
- Traditionally peach bellinis are made with prosecco. Look for DOC or DOCG to ensure you’re getting a good quality prosecco from Italy.
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