Like many of the great liquid legends of cocktail artistry, the greatest drinks seem to have the largest legends behind each pensive sip. None hold as much mystique and intrigue as the Bellini. I love the Bellini for what it is not. It is not sugary sweet. It is not trendy. It is not difficult to make. What a Bellini is and what it has become- is history in the glass. I'm holding a bottle of Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini cocktail mixer in my hands and I seek greater inspiration from the whiff of tiny white peaches and the "not too sweet" finish of "summer in a glass."
This is very sophisticated juice- worthy of the finest sparkling wines or mixers. To say that summer is only as far away as a bottle of Powell & Mahoney is not too far of a stretch. You cannot physically force summer upon the outside world, but inside your cocktail glass it can be summer any time you open a bottle and mix a drink.
The original history of the Bellini has been told and re-told over the decades. Venice, Italy- the famed "Harry's Bar" and freshly picked white peaches, gently pureed and then strained with a touch of pure cane sugar makes the best cocktail. What I do know about the Bellini is that a proper Bellini must be prepared with the best possible ingredients. The Peach Bellini mix that I hope you have a chance to try is exceptionally refreshing in a glass, served plain as well as with a bit of freshly drawn seltzer. You can make a brilliant Bellini with the sparkling wine of your choice- or any of a multitude of other ingredients.
The classic preparation includes Prosecco but yours might be something else entirely. The hit of dry fizz to the savory sweetness of creamy, white peaches can be described simply as, memorable and essential!
My parents took me to Italy when I was in my early teen years. They did not forbid me to taste alcoholic beverages- quite the opposite in fact, there was always wine on our table at home and more wine when traveling in Europe. Our trip to Venice was one of the highpoints of my childhood. We took a water-taxi to the famed glass factories of Murano where many of my cocktail glasses were crafted. I do believe and my mind's eye recalls many unique flavors on that trip so many decades ago.
I remember it was brutally hot on this summer trip to Venice. The glass factories are not air-conditioned and my young thirst was only compounded by the lack of water or even wine as I recall.
To blow glass, vast amounts of fire is necessary, hence the furnaces glowing nearly white hot. Images and feelings such as these never left my mind, watching glass blown by talented artisans in a time honored method has reverberated in my memory since those days.
It's no coincidence that the vessels that hold my cocktails are hand-blown, some from Italy, others from crafts-people trained in Italy.
There is a certain polished elegance to real Murano glass that cannot be duplicated any place else in the world.
The glass galleries of Venice are located in vast palazzio that echo with history. Millions of dollars of glass sculptures sit next to more humble reminders of the glass-blower's craft. The hushed elegance of these living museums is further exemplified by the serving of Bellini cocktails, many served in glasses blown just for this purpose. You don't have to drink a Bellini in a Murano hand blown glass, but it wouldn't hurt! As I mentioned it was one of those days in Venice that the air stood nearly still and the humidity rose off the canals in vast sheets of penetrating, rippling heat. My parents were served tall (hand-blown) glasses of peach nectar with fizzy Prosecco poured over the top.
Of course I held my hand out for one to sate my young thirst. I can picture the sweet, yet tangy flavor of white peaches, the staccato of the Prosecco and the glass emptying itself down my throat in one fell swoop.
"Yes please, may I have another?"
With this quality product, made in "Micro-Batches" by Powell & Mahoney, you too may duplicate the utter dream-state of being in Venice. If it's not summer where you are, turn up the heat in your home and find yourself a glass that befits a drink of the highest quality. And try not to duplicate the seven deadly sins, unless you want to!
In my most twisted fashion, I've created a cocktail that befits the classic flavors and memories of Venice, and those of Carnival, when the city is masked in intrigue and passion.
This cocktail is firmly based on the classic history of white peach nectar and Prosecco, but in keeping with my twisted sensibility I've taken the path less followed and twisted things up quite a bit.
You may find after several, if you have any clothes left on they will be gone soon, hence the name the Seven Deadly Sins. ( Sette Peccati Capitali)
Ingredients for several clothing and mind liberators hence the name Sette Peccati Capitali:
1 shot glass of Tenneyson Absinthe
1 shot glass of Aviation Gin from House Spirits
1 shot glass of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
4 shot glasses of Prosecco or any dry sparkling wine (It need not be Champagne, just light and refreshing)
3-4 shots of Powell & Mahoney Micro-Batch All Natural Cocktail Mixer
1 cup Grilled Orange Juice (Slice oranges into rounds, grill over fire or sear in a pan then juice)
In a cocktail shaker, fill 1/4 with ice
Add liqueurs except for the sparkling wine
Add Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini Mixer
Add a couple of ice cubes to each glass
Shake and strain into champagne glasses or long cocktail glasses
Add exactly three drops of the Bitter End Curry Bitters to each glass
Add the grilled orange juice, about 1 shot per drink
Add a couple of splashes of Prosecco to the glasses that contain the liqueurs, the peach Bellini nectar and the Bitter End Curry Bitters
Fully experience this cocktail by having several! (I won't be held responsible for your actions!)
Photograph by Warren Bobrow with the Leica M8/Summicron F2 50mm