Sipping bellinis at the Legendary Harry’s Bar, Venice

Experiences, Venice

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Sipping bellinis at the Legendary Harry’s Bar, Venice

When, after a long day’s sightseeing, you want to sip a cocktail in an atmospheric bar, Venice has plenty of choices. But there’s one place to go if your beverage of choice is a bellini cocktail: Venice’s legendary Harry’s Bar. Let’s take a look at this famous bar and its illustrious history.

Harry’s Bar Venice: history

credito foto Agrodolce

Harry’s Bar, Venice has been going since 1931, when it was founded by a bartender named Giuseppe Cipriani. Legend has it that Cipriani had been a bartender at Venice’s Hotel Europa, a favourite of an American man named Harry Pickering. When Pickering unexpectedly stopped showing up at the hotel bar, it transpired that he’d been financially cut off by his family after they’d discovered his drinking habit. 

When Cipriani learned of this, he leant Pickering 10,000 lire. Pickering returned two years later and, having ordered a drink, gave Cipriani 50,000 lire with the suggestion that he open a bar and name it after him.

The rest, as they say, is history, and in 2001, Harry’s Bar was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs. Along the way, it’s been a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, and visited by other famous names including Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and George Clooney. Harry’s Bar is even mentioned in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited as a watering hole frequented by Charles and Sebastian when they’re in Venice.

What to drink at Harry’s Bar

If you’re in the market for a Bellini cocktail during your day trip to Venice, the city has Harry’s Bar to thank for this popular drink and it’s the obvious choice for a first visit. 

The best Bellini in Venice is right here, at Harry’s Bar. The cocktail, made with a mix of Prosecco and fresh peach puree, has become iconic since 1948. The name of the drink pays homage to Giovanni Bellini. That year, an exhibition on the famous 15th-century painter was being organised in Venice and this was the idea for the name of the cocktail. A lot of people also see the similarity between the pink of Cipriani’s signature drink and the shades of pink used by the painter.

If you are at Harry’s in Venice, you can also opt for a dry Martini. This is another very famous drink which comes in a small, stemless glass. 

Enjoying drinks at Harry’s Bar is not focused on following the newest mixology trends, but rather on savouring skillfully crafted classic cocktails. The expert bartenders are able to create almost any cocktail to your exact specifications.

Interestingly, Harry’s Bar is also the home of Carpaccio, so if you fancy a bite to eat, that’s a good dish to go for. Food at Harry’s Bar is expensive – indeed, it’s just as much a restaurant as a bar – but you’re paying as much for the ambience as for the food itself.

Why is Harry’s bar famous?

Harry’s Bar in Venice is famous for several reasons. Firstly, it is considered to be the birthplace of the Bellini cocktail, a drink made with fresh white peach puree and Prosecco, which was created by the founder Giuseppe Cipriani, in 1948. Additionally, the bar has been a popular spot for celebrities and socialites since its opening in 1931, with famous patrons including Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, and Aristotle Onassis

The bar is also renowned for its classic Italian dishes, such as Carpaccio, a dish of thinly sliced raw beef seasoning them with the ‘Universal sauce’, which was also invented by Giuseppe Cipriani.Here you can also taste the classics of Italian and Venetian cuisine and some Harry’s own classics, like baked tagliolini with ham or risotto primavera.

Finally, Harry’s Venice is considered a cultural icon in town, as it has been frequented by many notable figures throughout its history, and continues to attract visitors from all over the world who want to experience its unique atmosphere and gastronomic offerings.

How to find Harry’s Bar

You’ll find Harry’s Bar, Venice at Calle Vallaresso 1323, right on the Grand Canal, next to the Hotel Monaco. Just two minutes walk from Piazza San Marco, it couldn’t be easier to find, as you can see from this map.

Now all you have to decide is whether to go for a Bellini or a dry martini… Salute!

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