How to make the perfect summer cocktail — the Bellini

Arrigo Cipriani pours peach juice into Champagne flutes while making Bellinis at Harry's Bar in Venice in 2006.
Arrigo Cipriani pours peach juice into Champagne flutes while making Bellinis at Harry’s Bar in Venice in 2006.
(Luigi Constantini / Associated Press)

Summertime is Bellini time. That’s just the way it is. And now that peaches are coming back in season, why wait?

For the uninitiated, we’re talking about a Venetian cocktail of white peach juice and Prosecco, the sparkling wine from the Veneto. The original was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice (not the beach town south of Santa Monica but the original watery city) sometime before the second world war. But it wasn’t christened “Bellini” until 1948.

Having one at Harry’s Bar is nice, very nice. But the cocktail is incredibly easy to make at home. All you need is a bottle of Prosecco, ripe white peaches (or white nectarines) and a blender or juicer. The blender makes the work easier, but unless you don’t mind peach sludge clinging to the sides of your Champagne flute, you’ll need to pass the whizzed peach through a fine strainer.


Juice the peaches well ahead, so they have plenty of time to chill down. The Prosecco needs to be very cold, too. But if you happen to grab a bottle of Prosecco at the last minute, simply put it in the freezer for a while before making up the drink.

If your peaches need a little sweetening, use simple syrup (a mixture of half water and half sugar cooked until clear and then cooled). Sweeten, cautiously, to taste.

I prefer a ratio of about one-third peach juice to two-thirds Prosecco. (Cipriani’s original recipe is one part peach juice to three parts Prosecco). Don’t mix it all up in a pitcher, though. Add the peach juice to a Champagne flute or white wine glass first and then pour the Prosecco on top.

There. You’re done.

The beautiful thing is that peach season is just getting started, time enough to make a summer’s worth of Bellinis.

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