Bellini, for a celebration or two
It’s a time for celebration or two, not only for the festive season and for the well-wishing the imminent year 2013, but we’re also celebrating the arrival of our first baby, a little girl, born just before Christmas. And – for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere right now – it’s also early summer and the beginning of stone-fruit season. It seemed only appropriate to celebrate with something like a shimmering, sparkling, blushing Bellini.
It’s today a classic on many cocktail menus the world over but the original Bellini was created in the 1930s in Venice’s legendary Harry’s Bar. It’s a simple, elegant cocktail of local prosecco, stirred gently (so as not to lose those bubbles) with fresh, pureed, white Veronese peaches. Giuseppe Cipriani, Harry’s founder, finally named his cocktail in 1948 after the rosy colours used by Venetian Renaissance painter, Giovanni Bellini.
A little bit of vintage elegance, and in every way the perfect cocktail when made with good, simple ingredients, this light and refreshing drink makes the perfect summertime aperitivo.
According to Harry’s Bar’s own recipe, the first thing to know is that everything must be ice cold, from the peaches to the prosecco to the glass.
The recipe is one part peach puree to three parts prosecco. Simple as that. But there are a few rules to know about:
- Exposure to air will make the peach puree turn brown – you can avoid this by not preparing the puree too far in advance (do it on the spot!) or by adding a little fresh lemon juice to the puree, enough just to stop the colouring. Some experts suggest not using a food processor. Try shredding the peach instead, using a strainer for the juice.
- Don’t use yellow peaches – ever!
- Don’t add anything else (some hideous versions include peach schnapps and other added ingredients). The exception is a bit of sugar or sugar syrup if the peaches are a little tart or the lemon mentioned above.
There are a number of classic variations on the Bellini, where another fresh fruit is substituted for the peaches. I’ve seen on some menus a description of a Bellini “made with strawberries” – there is a name for that drink! If you can’t get fresh white peaches or want something a bit different, how about a Rossini (strawberry puree), a Mimosa (fresh squeezed orange juice) or the Tintoretto (fresh pomegranate)? There’s also the Bellini Royale, where champagne is substituted for the prosecco.
Here’s to a happy New Year, full of new beginnings! Cheers!