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Bellinis anybody?


Hemingway is reputed to have drunken A LOT which is interesting because in novels such as A Moveable Feast he commented on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s consumption (we can only imagine what that may have been). He was also supposedly known to have emptied his wealthy second wife’s prestigious wine cellar in their Key West home before leaving her for another woman. Such was his thirst for top kit.

Where he lacked social grace, he seemed to have made up for in good taste and he was alleged to be one of the greatest “˜foodies’ of his time, seeking out the most succulent of meals and the most flavoursome of drinks. The Bellini was originally invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice by owner Giuseppe Cipriani in the late 30s (he also invented carpaccio). He named it after the fifteenth-century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini. Harry’s Bar was Hemingway’s favourite haunt in the city at the time, and he was a frequent (and I mean frequent) visitor. The Bellini’s fame spread and though it has long been drunk over the years, in recent times, it has re-become one of the most requested summertime drinks.

How a Bellini is served at Harry's Bar
How a Bellini is served at Harry’s Bar

So what is in a Bellini exactly? It is actually quite simple – fresh white peach juice or puree and Prosecco. I’ve had many different ones ranging from an alarmingly sweet concoction that was deep flamingo pink in colour (and layered!) in Bordeaux to a delicious “˜grown up’ version made with Champagne (Claridge’s Bar). But I’m a purist and I like to do things the old fashioned way.

Like great cuisine, the secret of a celebrated Bellini lies in the quality of the ingredients and the blend. So no cheap Prosecco should be allowed in the mix (watch out as there is loads out there). But it is reasonably priced, with the grandest costing under £13-15 (our Bianca Vigna is £11.55 inc VAT) – a fraction of the cost of the grandest Champagne. The other very important element is the white peach juice. In season, you can buy sweet, juicy and ripe peaches and puree them yourselves. However, out of season, this is trickier and frankly you may want a simpler approach. Funkin is reputed to be the best and professional bars buy from them.

The original is produced with 1/3 white peach juice and 2/3 Prosecco, but like great chefs, the quantities can be altered to taste.

To make the peach puree, score a cross on the bottom of each peach with a knife. Drop into a pot of boiling water for a couple minutes, plunge into an ice-water bath, and remove the skin. Chop into chunks, puree in the blender, and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Happy drinking!