View OED entry

Bellini noun earlier than 1965

OED contributor Stephen Goranson has supplied an example from 1956.

The famous cocktail of peach juice mixed with Prosecco or champagne is said to have been invented in Venice at Harry’s Bar in the 1930s, but named only in 1948 (in honour of the painter Giovanni Bellini, c1430–1516). Our earliest evidence in English comes almost two decades later than the drink is said to have been named, in 1965:

1965 Harper’s Bazaar Dec. 108/1 Bellinis. You know, peaches in champagne.

Can you help us find an earlier example? English travel writing or guidebooks, or cocktail books and menus might be a good place to start.

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Posted by OED_Editor on 2 October 2012 17.38
Comments: 10

  • Hb1616

    Colin Simpson, Wake up Europe: a book of travel for Australians & New Zealanders, 1959, p.86

    “On the day I was taken there not one representative of European royalty was sipping on a Bellini (champagne and peach juice) and the Aga Khan, the film stars, the writers like Truman Capote and painters like Bernard Buffet were elsewhere.”

    • OED_Editor

      Thank you! This looks like a genuine antedating of ‘Bellini’. If it is the earliest
      example submitted for this appeal, we will check it in a hard copy of the first
      edition to verify it.

  • Kalayzich

    found this on wordnik,it supports quotes to be found before 1965
     
    “The Bellini is my cocktail of choice, first enjoyed at Harry’s Bar by me in the late 50s.”
    The Huffington Post: Jay Weston: Buon Giorno MR C! Cipriani Comes to L.A., and I Have My Best Italian Meal in Years

    • Hugo

      Unfortunately that text was published in 2011.

  • OED_Editor

    Frequent OED contributor Stephen Goranson has directly e-mailed an example from 1956, verified in the library:

    1956 M. McCarthy _Venice Observed_ 19/1 Harry’s Bar has a
    drink called a Tiziano, made of grapefruit juice and champagne and
    colored pink with grenadine or bitters. ‘You ought to have a
    Tintoretto,’ someone remonstrated, and the proprietor regretted that he
    had not yet invented that drink, but he had a Bellini and a Giorgione.

  • GarsonOToole

    Google Books has a match in an issue of Esquire with a GB
    date of 1955. Based on probes I think the match is probably in the December
    1955 issue in an article titled “The Grand Canal: Tide of Elegance”
    by Charlotte & Denis Plimmer on page 147. The article contains a very long list of
    transactions that one can perform near the Grand Canal in Venice. Included in
    this list is buying a Bellini. Harry’s Bar is adjacent to the Grand Canal. This
    might be a useful lead for the OED editors.

    [Begin excerpt]

    Because the Grand Canal is, quite genuinely, Venice’s Main
    Street, you can transact the same kinds of business here that you can along any
    Main Street anywhere. You can get your suit pressed, …

     

    … consult a lawyer, get arrested, buy a kilo of baby octopus,
    a hunk of salami, a bunch of roses, a Bellini or a nickel post card. You can
    rent a room and bath in a Renaissance palazzo, visit an American millionairess
    who owns the finest private

    [End excerpt]

  • GarsonOToole

    The December 1955 issue of Esquire did contain a passage that mentioned buying a Bellini along the Grand Canal in Venice. The page number given by Google Books was inexact. I checked on microfilm and the correct page was 141 and not 147.

    Cite: 1955 December, “The Grand Canal: Tide of Elegance” by Charlotte & Denis Plimmer, Start Page 141, Quote Page 141, Esquire, Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Verified on microfilm)

    [Begin excerpt]
    Because the Grand Canal is, quite genuinely, Venice’s Main Street, you can transact the same kinds of business here that you can along any Main Street anywhere. You can get your suit pressed, buy your cigarettes, have a tooth pulled, …

    you can open a bank account, consult a lawyer, get arrested, buy a kilo of baby octopus, a hunk of salami, a bunch of roses, a Bellini or a nickel post card.
    [End excerpt]

  • Bryn_OED

    An intermediate usage, between those already found and the 1965 usage.

    From the Sunday Times newspaper, of 26th May, 1963 [p25], in the “Cool and Sour for Summer” article:
    “Stop Press – A new drink from Italy – it originated in Harry’s Bar in Venice – it’s called Bellini.  You squeeze fresh peaches …”
    The recipe uses Champagne, rather than Prosecco 

  • http://www.facebook.com/thurb Jonathan Palfrey

    On page 13 of The Harry’s Bar Cookbook (Arrigo Cipriani, 1991, ISBN 1 85685 008 0) it says about the Bellini: “It’s been our most popular drink since my father invented it sometime in the thirties. It didn’t have a name until he christened it in honour of the artist for the big Giovanni Bellini exposition in Venice in 1948.”