Bellini History

Bellini History - Picnic Brunch

Behold, the beautiful blushing Bellini’s beguiling biography!

Okay, maybe not a “beguiling” biography. The Bellini actually has one of the more straightforward and all-around complete histories when it comes to cocktails. But it is very interesting, which is what matters.

Photo by Nataliya Melnychuk on Unsplash

The Bellini, while nearly as old as the Mimosa and Bloody Mary, can clearly be traced to one man in one bar. It was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. (More on the bar in a bit.) Most sources cite the year 1948 as the year the Bellini came to fruition, including Cipriani’s own son Arrigo Cipriani. Others give a range from 1934 to 1948.

About the bar: in case “Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy” sounds familiar, it’s because the bar is famous. Founded in 1931, it has been visited by many famous patrons, including the range of Ernest Hemingway in its earlier days to the famous actor George Clooney today. It’s also the birthplace of the carpaccio (a dish of raw thinly sliced or pounded meat or fish, also invented by Giuseppe Cipriani) and famous for their dry martinis.

Photo by Dmitry Bukhantsov on Unsplash

Back to the drink. Giuseppe Cipriani loved the white peaches that grew in Italy, and wanted to properly capture them in a drink. The original Bellini recipe is two parts Prosecco to one part fresh white peach puree, and a little bit of raspberry or cherry juice to really get the color right. Just gently stir and serve in a chilled champagne flute, and you have a classic Bellini.

The Bellini was originally a seasonal drink. Specifically, the four-month season when white peaches grew in Italy, June through September. However, someone found a way to fresh-freeze the peach puree, which allowed the Bellini to be drunk year-round.

It’s said that through their international patrons, the Bellini drink spread in popularity around the world. Today, it remains one of the most popular cocktails, especially in Italy.

The Feast of the Gods, begun c. 1514 by Giovanni Bellini, and completed by Titian in 1529; oil on canvas; National Gallery of Art, Washington

As for the drink’s name, we’ll have to turn to art history: Giovanni Bellini, a 15th century Venetian artist. For the art history buffs, he was known for his use of bright colors in his paintings, which was a rarity of the time. (He also painted a lot of paintings, some of which have been lost to history.) Arrigo Cipriani has said that his father admired Bellini’s works, and the particular “pink glow” in some of Bellini’s paintings helped inspire the drink.

Like other fruit cocktails, there are many variations of the Bellini today. You can add nearly any fruit juice to a classic Bellini and get a refreshing drink. Raspberries and cherries get our seal of approval, since they’ve been there from the beginning. There’s also a rhubarb Bellini somewhere out in the world, which we are highly curious to try for ourselves.

And if anyone needs a can of Bellini, ready for whatever adventures you have, Picnic Brunch has you covered. Check out our store locator to find the closest one to you today.