A Bellini is an internationally well-known long drink cocktail that originated in Italy. It is a mixture of sparkling wine (traditionally Prosecco) and peach purée often served at celebrations. It is one of Italy's most popular cocktails.
The drink started as a seasonal specialty at Harry's Bar, a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis and Orson Welles. Later, it also became popular at the bar's New York counterpart. After an entrepreneurial Frenchman set up a business to ship fresh white peach pureé to both locations, it was a year-round favorite.
"I think that the Bellini growth is tied to the very strong Italian chain restaurant growth, especially Olive Garden, since Italian restaurants are where Bellinis and drinks like them are featured and promoted," says Jack Robertiello, editor of Cheers magazine.
Complimentary Bellini cocktails are included with several tour packages of Venice available for online booking.
The Perfect Purée Company of Napa Valley produces California White Peach Purée, which is an acceptable, or even preferable (due to reduced foaming), replacement in the United States, where fresh white peaches are not widely available. "Of the 28 flavors currently in our portfolio, White Peach Purée (introduced [around 2003]) is consistently among the top seven sellers with steady growth yearly," says Jennifer Sims, marketing and chain restaurant manager for The Perfect Purée.
California produces a white peach that works well, and yellow peaches or peach nectar can be substituted, especially if peaches are out of season and the flavor would be very bland. Other fruits or even flavoured liqueurs (peach schnapps, for example) are sometimes substituted for the peach puree.
Other sparkling wines are commonly used in place of Prosecco, though richly flavored French champagne does not pair well with the light, fruity flavor of the Bellini. For a non-alcoholic version, sparkling juice (like sparkling cider) or seltzer is used in place of the champagne.