An Authentic Italian Picnic, Part 3 of 5: Bellinis

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Art Credit: Valentina Sofrini

One of Italy’s favorites, the Bellini is probably the most popular Italian concoction and its sweet, fruity scent is appreciated at every aperitivo. Invented in 1948 at Harry's Bar in Venice, this refreshing drink was named after the similarly delicate, rosy colors of the paintings by Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. The cocktail became a fast favorite at Harry's, which was often frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Nowadays, Venetians enjoy this drink while leisurely sitting at one of the many small bars along the water alleys of the city, nibbling on "cicchetti," the small bites that come with brunch. And Cipriani, the renowned owner of Harry’s Bar, is now a worldwide institution.

Although the original recipe uses white peaches, all you really need are ripe, soft, sweet fruits that can be pureed easily. You can also use a mix of fresh peaches and peach juice. The Bellini is traditionally made with prosecco (the Italian version of Champagne), but Asti Spumante will do just fine. However, if you do make yours with Champagne, it's called a Bellini Royal. Serve the cocktail with fresh strawberries or raspberries for extra color and fragrance, and pair with appetizers, entrees, and desserts alike. We like ours with prosciutto and mozzarella—a savory start to any meal.

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BELLINI

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups peach puree (about 6 peaches), or a mix of peach puree and juice

3 cups prosecco, Anti Spumante, or Champagne

fresh raspberries, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

01. Peel the peaches, which should be ripe and soft, and collect the dripping juice.

02. Blend them to a smooth puree, preferably with a couple cubes of crushed ice, then add to a pitcher.

03. Pour in the prosecco, and stir well.

04. Serve chilled, in flute glasses, accompanied by fresh berries and slices of fresh peach.