Harry`s Bar Venice – Home of the Bellini Cocktail
In the light of recent news reports that the Cipriani family will have to hand over the keys to the legendary Harry`s Bar Venice, Italy, due to crippling debts, we thought we would take a brief look back at one of the world’s most famous bars: birthplace to the classic Bellini Cocktail and frequented by many Hollywood greats including; Charlie Chaplin, Truman Capote and Orson Welles.
Harry`s Bar was opened in 1931 by bartender Giuseppe Cipriani, although on the bars current website, credit goes to his wife Giulietta. The origin of the bars name has an interesting story behind it. Legend goes that a young American called Harry Pickering would frequent Hotel Europa in Venice where Giuseppe Cipriani was tending the bar. Harry and Giuseppe struck up a relationship but then, all of a sudden, Harry stopped coming into the bar. Giuseppe was to find out that Harry had been cut off financially from his family and was consequently broke. As such, he lent him 10,000 lire, thinking he would never see him, or the money, again. Two years later Harry came back into the bar and ordered a drink. He returned the money to Giuseppe, plus an additional 40,000 lire. With that he added “That’s enough to open a bar. We will call it Harry`s Bar”.
Harry`s Bar quickly became a magnet for some of the worlds most powerful businessmen and Hollywood`s most famous stars. Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles were some of the many well known patrons of the bar and that most famous of alcohol connoisseurs, Ernest Hemingway, even had his own table at the bar. Several of the scenes in Hemingway`s popular novel, “Across the River and into the Trees”, were set in Harry`s Bar.
In 1948 the classic Bellini Cocktail was invented. Although, even to this day, the Bellini Cocktail is considered one of the great Champagne Cocktails, it is actually created using Proseco and white peach puree. Legend has it that Giuseppe named the Bellini after the painter Giovanni Bellini because the colours also matched a robe worn by one of the paintings subjects. As well as the world famous Bellini, Cipriani is also credited with inventing carpaccio as it is known today. It was his second classic inspired by his love of art. Carpaccio was named after the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, who was known for his use of red and white tones.
100 ml Prosecco, 50 ml Peach Puree, 4 dashes Peach Bitters
How to make a Bellini cocktail
Add 4 dashes of peach bitters into chilled champagne flute. Add peach puree and top up with prosecco.
Harry`s Bar Venice is also well known for its Dry Martini which are known for their dryness, with a ratio of 10 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. This is an adaptation of a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, the Montgomery Martini, which is made with 15 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth. The Montgomery is named after British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery who liked to have a 15 to 1 ratio of own troops against enemy troops on the battle field.