It’s that time of year again – a time for holiday parties, great food and cocktails!  I don’t know about you but when I go to a party, I always feel awkward asking the host for a top up on my cocktail when mine has run dry.  Let’s be honest, no one wants to seem like a lush and it’s also awkward to have to bother the host and take them away from their other guests just so they can give you a top up on your drink.
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Recently, there has been a huge up-rise in self-serve stations.  You guys know what I’m talking about – those all you can eat late night stations; poutine station, jerk chicken station, mac and cheese station, etc.  I get really excited when I see a self-serve station at a party because I can drink and eat as much as I want to and not feel badly about it!  This also solves the problem that I mentioned earlier by making your guests enjoy the party a little bit more and by making them feel more comfortable.  Self-serve bars are also a lot of fun!
(*I should add in a disclaimer at this point that when you’re hosting a party you should always keep an eye on your guests and how much they are drinking.  Make sure those who have had alcoholic beverages take a cab or have a designated driver and get home safely.)
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I have taken the idea of a self-serve bar and I’ve put together some tips and recipes to create your very own Bellini Bar!
The Bellini was invented sometime between 1934 and 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. He named the drink the “Bellini” because its unique pink color reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.  Thank you Wikipedia!
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Traditionally, a Bellini cocktail is a mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach purée or nectar. Nowadays, however, if you mix any type of fruit juice, puree or nectar with prosecco you can call it a “bellini”.  Can we all agree that nectar sounds much sexier than puree?  Good.  Bellini’s are often served as a pre-meal – Aperitif – or as a cocktail.  I like to serve them before a brunch.
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How to set up your Bellini Bar

  • Find a spot to set up the bar:  You want to find a place where people can stop and make a drink without bumping into someone else .  There must be easy access for people to flow in, make a drink, and flow out.
  • Make the table look festive and inviting: Put a nice festive centerpiece on the table (My centerpiece is from Terracotta Home & Garden) and some festive linens so that the table looks inviting and people are enticed to make a drink.  You want people to get the message that the bar is part of the party!  Add a label or sign that says “The Bellini Bar” to let people know what kind of bar it is.IMG_5713
  • Have all supplies available:  Make sure everything needed to make a bellini is available. To make sure you don’t leave anything out, the best thing to do is to physically run-through the process yourself.  Do a test run!

Some key supplies needed for your Bellini bar are:
a) Champagne glasses,
b) Nectars in pourable pitchers (make sure the pitchers have spouts so they are easy to pour),
c) Prosecco (I will discuss in more detail below),
d) Garnishes,
e) Stir sticks or spoons,
f) Napkins,
g) A container or bowl that guests can toss the stir stick and napkin into, and,
h) Linen napkins in case there are any spills.
I love this cocktail because I’m terrible at using cocktail shakers and this cocktail does not require one!  Imagine if all of your guests had to use a cocktail shaker?
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  • Keeping your drinks cold: Keep purees/nectars and Prosecco refrigerated over night and then use a simple wine bucket filled with ice for the Prosecco, itself.  Like I mentioned earlier, this is an aperitif, served before the meal, so don’t worry about having to keep the liquids cold all day.  The time frame this cocktail is served is usually about 1 hour long and because the liquids will be refrigerated overnight, they will stay cold for up to 1 hour, at least.
  • Tell your guests the bar is open and available: Sometimes people feel awkward to just help themselves.  Although you don’t have to necessarily serve them the drink, let them know that the bar is ready and available so they feel comfortable using it.

Choosing Prosecco
Prosecco is really affordable so it is a great option for entertaining.  In Italy, they serve Prosecco like beer – Prosecco alla Spina – Spina meaning tap and It’s brought over in pitchers.  I love this idea – maybe at my next party!
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When I need to choose a brand of Prosecco, or any alcoholic beverage for that matter, I often ask an expert at the liquor store because they are very knowledgeable when it comes to choosing the best bang for your buck – price vs. quality.  I personally have never tried a Prosecco I didn’t like so I’m always rather confident when I’m serving it to my guests.
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Planning The Nectar Menu
For my Bellini bar, I chose seasonal fruit, Persimmon garnished with a cinnamon stick, apple cider garnished with a rosemary sprig and pomegranate garnished with pomegranate seeds.  A few of the recipes are detailed below.
I made the persimmon nectar myself but the apple cider and pomegranate juice were already made and I picked them up from my local market.
You have three options:

  1. Make your own home made puree using seasonal fruit.
  2. Buy frozen fruit like berries, mangos and peaches to make your own puree.  This option means you have a lot more varieties to choose from.
  3. Buy your nectar/puree already made from your local market.

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I hope you guys are inspired by this and use it at your next party.  People always love choices so the more varieties you have available at your bar, the better the result.
If you’re wondering if your Bellini bar would be a hit, check out the lineup I had when I presented this idea to a group at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.  I literally could not keep up!!
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I am going to say it one more time PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR GUESTS ARE SAFE AND NEVER LET THEM DRINK AND DRIVE.  This is very important especially as we enter the festive season.
Please let me know how your guests like your Bellini Bar and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday party season!
With Love,
Julie

DIY Seasonal Bellini Bar
 
Each of these recipes serve 4 champagne flutes.
Author:
Ingredients
  • Cider Bellini
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • Prosecco
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    Persimmon Bellini
  • 2 medium persimmons
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • Prossecco
    Pomegranate Bellini:
  • 4 oz Pomegranate juice
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Prosecco
Instructions
  1. Cider Bellini: Pour the cider into a champagne flute. Top with the Prosecco sparkling wine. Serve with the rosemary sprig.
  2. Persimmon Bellini: Make persimmon puree. To work with persimmons, first put persimmons in the freezer overnight to ripen, then peel and puree them. Add ¼ tsp allspice + ¼ tsp cinnamon + ¼ tsp ginger. Combine. (*To make the puree easier to pour, you may add a simple syrup to it -one part water and one part sugar, dissolved). Add puree to champagne flutes About 1 tablespoon per glass and top with Prosecco. Give it a gentle blend. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.
  3. Pomegranate Bellini: Pour the persimmon puree into a champagne flute. Top with the Prosecco sparkling wine. Serve with some pomegranate seeds as a garnish.