Luxury has changed a lot recently. A year ago, luxury was a celebrity chef cooking just for us in a three-star restaurant; private tours in the most crowded museums; planes, airports and even islands just for ourselves. And when this lifestyle turned into our reality, it wasn’t what we thought we wanted.
An old adage purports that it’s the little things that bring ultimate pleasure. Like a handshake at the doorway after touching had been cancelled for a year, or the first bite of your home-grown tomatoes. It’s the moment you open your umbrella on a rainy afternoon or that of achieving the perfect lip line, when you thought you’d lost the plot on make-up altogether.
The pandemic changed us in many ways, but one thing remains clear: we will never underestimate the luxury of the simple things in life, again.
Thinking of simplicity and luxury in a summer context, there is just one thing that pops in our mind – the epitome of them both, the Bellini cocktail.
Yes, it’s simply white peaches and Prosecco, but a good Bellini is like a hallucination, inducing a fuzzy haze the moment they touch your lips. Then it becomes like a song you cannot take out of your head, and the best part is, it is socially acceptable to start drinking them in the afternoon.
As we approach a long-awaited holiday season, full of hope that we’ll finally taste a bit of what we once called normality, we’ve decided to share with you one of our best-kept secrets – the Bellini List.
These are the bars that serve the best Bellini cocktails we’ve tried in Europe. We often repeat it as a mantra, hoping to visit at least two of them in the following months. Santé!
Harry’s Bar, Cipriani, Venice
Harry’s Bar, Calle Vallaresso 1323, San Marco
Legend has it that Giuseppe Cipriani, bar owner of the Harry’s Bar in Venice, had a thing for white peaches – no, not like Timothee Chalamet’s character Elio in Call Me by Your Name! Maybe more like Justin Bieber. The fact is that peaches grow in abundance throughout Italy from June through September and the Prosecco pours nonstop. Giuseppe was so fascinated by the white peaches, that he was constantly seeking for a way to put them on the bar’s menu.
So, in 1948, according to Harry's Bar: The Life and Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark, by Arrigo Cipriani (son of Giuseppe), Giuseppe introduced the original Bellini cocktail. He named it so because of its unique pinkish hue that reminded him of a painting by 15th Century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini.
Signor Cipriani’s Bellini consists of one part fresh white peach puree and two parts chilled Prosecco. At first, it could only be ordered when white peaches are in season. Later, a Frenchman created a method to fresh freeze the white peach puree and changed the 21st-century brunch culture forever.
Harry’s Bar opened in Venice in 1931 and was a mainstay for famous clientele: such as Alfred Hitchcock, Truman Capote, Charlie Chaplin, Peggy Guggenheim, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Aristotle Onassis, F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, local elite and royals. It was even declared an Italian national landmark.
Along with the Bellini, you should also try the beef Carpaccio named in homage to the work of Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio.
Hemingway Bar, Ritz, Paris
The Ritz Hotel, 15 Place Vendome
The most remarkable Bellini you will find in Paris is that of the Hemingway Bar, a hidden gem in the Ritz Paris. Some say the head barman Colin Field has a talent for divining what you’d like to order, be it the sparkling Venetian specialty or their signature cocktail The Serendipity. No wonder Forbes ranked him as best bartender in the world not once but three times already.
When the Ritz Paris first opened, men and women weren’t allowed to drink together in bars, but Cesar Ritz was very interested in generating female clientele. That’s how the The Ladies’ Bar was created to the side of the main lounge of the Ritz Hotel, available only for ladies. Gentlemen were allowed to come in only if they were married to the lady in the bar. To this day, many drinks are garnished with fresh flowers, such as roses and orchids, because of this fact.
When Hemingway started visiting the bar around 1926 these rules had already begun to relax. He was a regular there for almost two decades. In 1979, while the bar was in need of a refresh, the staff suggested renaming it after the journalist and writer, who wrote some of his most famous literature between the walls of the Hemingway Bar.
The bar is small (only 25 seats) and your best chance to get a seat is to show up at 6 pm, but it’s worth every minute of waiting.
Library Bar, The Lanesborough, London
Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA. Closest station: Hyde Park Corner.
The aura of a Members’ Club, “liquid museum” of spirits – a collection with some of the rarest and finest cognacs, and vibrant atmosphere, make The Library Bar one of the best-kept secrets everyone knows in Knightsbridge and Belgravia.
You should come on a Friday night when the legendary piano player Brian Morris takes centre stage. He’s been playing the piano in the bar since it first opened 25 years ago and will delight you with his magic, as well as, some of your favourite cheesy listening.
Their Bellini, called Provencal Bellini, is a symphony on its own. The Venetian’s favourite cocktail is stirred with white peach purée, ginger cordial and a spray of aromes of lavender.
If you want to feel like a proper grown-up, surrounded by the charm of old-school-Brit, dark wood, heavy upholstered furniture, lots of cushions and books, then this must be the place in London for you.
Stravinskij Bar, Hotel de Russie, Rome
Via del Babuino, 9
There is an oasis in the historic heart of Rome, hidden on a private piazza at the foot of Hotel de Russie’s Secret Garden. We won’t lie, Stravinskij Bar is truly posh, but in a lovely and beautiful way that will seduce all your senses.
The first thing that you notice about the bar is that the surrounding gardens are majestic – mature trees, fountains, and lush botanicals make the whole place feel discreet, like an Eden in the midst of this ancient city. There is no dress code, but the people-watching is top-notch, so a little effort goes a long way.
And now, the cocktails. Peruse their luxurious menu of contemporary and classic cocktails, choosing from a timeless Bellini to stellar concoctions like their signature Stravinskij Spritz (prosecco with a mix of wild berries, saffron flowers, spices, and passionfruit).
If you arrive too early for cocktails, try their healthy non-alcoholic beverages and the lunch menu, which is delicious and perfect in the summer sunshine.
Bar Bellini, Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibex
Boulevard J. F. Kennedy, CS 10029, 06605 Antibes Cedex
The French Riviera. Three simple words, embodying everything that we could want from the perfect summer holiday. And on top of them is the 150-year-old Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc – the Côte d’Azur’s most glamorous gem.
Giuseppe Cipriani’s Bellini recipe has been perfected here by Christophe Lencioni, Head Bartender at the hotel, which has even named one of its bars the Bar Bellini – favourite of celebrities and Hollywood stars. He topped the original up with Peach Liqueur, turning every sip into the ultimate indulgence.
With a delightful outdoor terrace, spectacular views around the hotel’s park and the glamorous Grande Allée down to the sea, it's hard to imagine anything more elegant than sipping a Bellini here.