One of the simple pleasures of the summer is the abundance of stone fruits: cherries, nectarines, apricots, plums, and peaches. Out of them all, the fuzzy-skinned peaches are my favorite. In fact, when I got the idea to make spiked ice pops, the first thing that came to mind was how good a frozen bellini would be, especially with sweet and juicy peaches in season.
The Bellini is a cocktail with an air of elegance and sophistication. It was created in the 1930s by Guiseppe Cipriani, the owner of Harry’s Bar, located just west of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. Over the years, it has become a cultural institution, patronized by both tourists and Venetians alike, and was a favorite hangout of Ernest Hemmingway, Charlie Chaplin, and Truman Capote, among others. Cipriani named the cocktail after Giovanni Bellini, a fifteenth century Venetian painter, because the drink’s color reminded Cipriani of the sunset in one of Bellini’s paintings. By the way, Harry’s Bar was also the birthplace of carpaccio, an appetizer made with thin slices of raw beef garnished with a mayonnaise-based sauce, named after another painter, Vittore Carpaccio.
We visited Venice many years ago during Carnival. We walked to Harry’s Bar and went inside, hoping to get a respite from the heat and the crowds. We were greeted with throngs of people who had the same idea. Back then, the notion of waiting an hour or more for a seat at a bar to order a drink was unfathomable to us. It didn’t matter that the drink originated there or that were at a famed Venetian landmark where Hemmingway once frequented. (He sure had a lot of favorite bars and it seems that I’ve been to a few of them!) We turned around and walked out as there were far too many things for us to do as first-timers in Venice and waiting for a drink was not one of them. Fast forward to the present day when we wouldn’t think twice about waiting in line for an hour at Shake Shack in New York City for their burgers, fries, and shakes or at Pizzeria Mozza, here in LA, for a pizza created by the team of superstar chefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich. Perhaps, someday we will return to Venice and to Harry’s Bar…but for now, we’re happy to make the bellini at home, whether frozen or not.
The original cocktail recipe called for puréed white peaches, Prosecco, a light-bodied, fruity Italian sparkling wine, and a little raspberry or cherry juice to give its subtle pink hue. While not traditional, I used yellow peaches for its bold color and more intense “peachy” flavor to make this cool and refreshing Italian-inspired summer treat.
Before starting, review these tips on how to convert your favorite cocktail into a poptail.
Bellini Ice Pops
Yields approximately 8 three-ounce pops
2 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut in chunks
1-1/4 cups Prosecco, or any sparking wine
3/4 – 1 cup simple syrup, more or less depending on the sweetness of the fruit (recipe below)
For the Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
To make the simple syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Let cool completely. Syrup can be refrigerated in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks.
Put the peaches into a blender and purée. Add 3/4 cup of simple syrup and blend thoroughly. Transfer the peach mixture into a medium bowl and add the Prosecco. Stir to combine thoroughly. Taste and add more simple syrup, if needed. Pour the peach mixture into 3-ounce cup molds. Freeze until mixture is slushy, about one hour, before inserting wooden sticks. Partially freezing the mixture will make it easier for the sticks to stay upright and in place. Freeze until completely firm, about 12 hours, or preferably for 24 hours.
To unmold the ice pops, dip the frozen molds into warm water for a few seconds. Gently pull the stick to release the pops from the mold.
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