The Artistic Inspiration Behind The Bellini

When people say they love a good Bellini, chances are they aren't talking about the great Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini. They're probably referring to the beloved cocktail that combines peaches and sparkling wine. Some iterations are spartan, relying solely on the flavor of the peach and the sweetness of the wine, like Martha Stewart's Bellini recipe, which features only peaches pureed with lemon juice and mixed with Champagne or Prosecco. Others, like The Spruce Eats, recommend adding sugar or syrup into the peach puree, resulting in a sweeter beverage.

Regardless of your preferred ingredients and ratios, fans of the drink — often a brunch staple — agree that it's a floral, quenching cocktail perfect for outdoor drinking. But why is it called a Bellini? And what peach-obsessed mixologist created it? For those answers, one must delve a bit deeper into the history of the drink. Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about the drinks origins.

It's named after 15th-century painter Giovanni Bellini

While some cocktails seem eternal, others are rooted in very specific places and times. Such is the story of the Bellini, which came out of Venetian hotspot Harry's Bar in the late '40s. According to Town and Country, the drink's genesis is discussed in great detail in Harry's Bar: The Life and Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark, written by the son of founder Giuseppe Cipriani, Arrigo Cipriani. Cipriani states that Harry's Bar was opened in 1931 and quickly became a draw for figures like Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Orson Welles. Eataly adds Humphrey Bogart into the mix. 

Giuseppe was a major peach lover, and one day he decided to puree white peaches. Cookie and Kate shares that their authentic Italian Bellinis are made with white peaches combined with Prosecco. Giuseppe's recipe (according to Eataly) calls for the bartender to stir two parts Prosecco with one-part fresh peach puree, serving it in a chilled Champagne flute. The name for his new concoction came easily to him when the drink's vibrant, sunset-tinged color reminded him of a painting by 15th-century Italian Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini. Once the drink started catching on in Venice, it spread like wildfire to major cities like New York and Paris. Now, it's a refreshing staple on cocktail menus far and wide.