Arrigo Cipriani The Harry's Bar Cookbook

ISBN 13: 9781857825350

The Harry's Bar Cookbook

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9781857825350: The Harry's Bar Cookbook

Over a period of 50 years, Harry's Bar has become a Venetian landmark, and a favourite haunt of stars such as Orson Welles, Hemingway, Noel Coward and Richard Burton. This cookery book replicates the recipes that have made Harry's Bar what it is, along with colour photographs and anecdotes from the bar's owner, Arrigo Cipriani. The bar's risottos and pasta dishes are its speciality, but other simple country food such as polenta, squid and beans are transformed into elegant dishes; and this volume provides recipes for making the bar's cocktails too, including the celebrated Bellini.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Harry Cipriani is the son of Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the original Harry's Bar in Venice. He is also the owner of the New York restaurants, Bellini and Harry Cipriani.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

DRINKS


It's Harry's Bar–we mustn't forget it; it's not Harry's Restaurant. The drinks we serve, the bar itself, the people gathered around it, often in so many layers that they completely block both doorways . . . these are the essence of the place. Dark-lacquered wood, gray marble, Art Deco ashtrays. A large glass bowl of blood oranges. A huge, beautifully shaped glass carafe in which we still make my father's martini: a whole bottle of chilled gin and a little vermouth. Stir and pour into 18 glasses and put them in the freezer. When you serve the martini, this glass frosts like no other.

Sit at the bar and watch the bartender make 24 Bellinis for the party upstairs. Bottle after bottle of cold, rosy peach puree, into the cocktail shaker with bottle after bottle of cold Prosecco. Twenty-four Bellini glasses filled with ice, lined up on a tray. Dump out the ice, pour in the rosy Bellini until the glass is full, with a quarter-inch of foam on top. 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 honor of the artist for the big Giovanni Bellini exposition in Venice in 1948.

Tending bar is a fine art, and my father was an artist par excellence. He smiled all the time because he was enjoying what he was doing. At the same time he was effortlessly making one perfect drink after another. Here as elsewhere, simplicity was his trademark. He knew that almost everyone who comes into a bar wants one of the most common drinks–there are perhaps 20 of them–and those are the ones he had at his fingertips. Once in a while a customer would ask for something very esoteric or fancy. He would always say, gently and courteously, "Can you tell me how it is made? Then I can make it for you."

The basic drinks are simple and are all variations of five kinds of spirits–gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, and brandy–combined with sparkling water, fruit, vermouth, or liqueurs. Most of the drinks we sell are one or another of these combinations.

But people's tastes do change, and the sales at the bar naturally reflect this. Just as in times of crisis or anxiety people always return to sweet, heavy traditional cooking, so there are moments for certain drinks. Sometimes gin is in; sometimes it's vodka. Some years people like sweet drinks; sometimes they won't touch them. Recently there's been a revival of the classic old sweet liqueurs such as Chartreuse and Cointreau. I can still remember the days when old Mr. Cointreau, well into his eighties, would drink seven or right of his own liqueurs every day.

It's important to keep the atmosphere pleasant in a bar. I think that's easier to do in Italy than in the United States because in the United States people go to bars primarily to drink and perhaps get a little drunk. In Italy it's a social occasion–to have a drink or two and to see people. Of course, once in a while you're having such a good time seeing people that you find yourself getting a little drunk. . . .

But I'm always careful; if anybody drinks too many martinis, I intervene.

My father set a standard for good drinks that we still try to meet. A good drink is very cold and strong enough that you know you're drinking something. I don't like it when bars serve a little splash in a big glass–or when they put in too much ice to make it look like more.

To keep drinks from getting watery, we always use large ice cubes instead of the small ones so many people seem to prefer. Ice machines that make large cubes are not so easy to find, but we insist on it. We keep bottles of gin, vodka, and vermouth in the refrigerator and always chill our glasses.

The proportions of a drink are all-important. We have standard proportions for all our drinks–but we also know how to adjust them to please certain customers.

But I think it's mostly the people–and the atmosphere in the bar–that make our drinks taste so good. People always ask for our drink recipes, and of course I'm giving them to you now, but please don't expect them to transport you to Harry's Bar. You'll have to use a more conventional vehicle for that.


THE BELLINI

Like so many things in "the good old days," making the white peach juice for Bellinis was a lengthy and tedious process. We had a man who did nothing all day but cut up and pit small white peaches and squeeze them with his hands to extract the juice. The juice and pulp were then forced through a chinois–a fine, cone-shaped sieve–to form the rose-colored elixir that is mixed with Prosecco to make Bellinis. Prosecco is the Italian version of champagne and comes from the region around Treviso. The Bellini was a seasonal drink then, available from June through September. Now we are lucky–we can get excellent frozen white peach purée from France and serve Bellinis year-round.

Never use yellow peaches to make a Bellini and never puree the peaches by machine. If you can't find the frozen puree, you'll just have to produce it the old-fashioned way.

Use a food mill or meat grinder to make the pulp and then force it through a fine sieve. If the peach purée is very tart, sweeten it with just a little sugar syrup (see sorbet recipe, page 278). Refrigerate the purée until it is very cold. Mix it with very cold, dry Prosecco in the proportion of 1 part peach puree to 3 parts wine or, for each drink, 1 ounce (30 ml) peach puree and 3 ounces (100 ml) wine. Pour the mixture into well-chilled glasses.

Variations:

A Tiziano is a Bellini made with grape juice instead of peach purée. It is special grape juice made from uva fragola, the same grapes that are used to make strawberry wine, a local specialty that is not even sold in stores. Use 1 part chilled grape juice to 3 parts chilled Prosecco.

A Mimosa is a Bellini using 1 part freshly squeezed orange juice with a little fresh tangerine juice to 3 parts chilled Prosecco. We used to serve it only in the winter, when Bellinis were out of season.

A Rossini is a Bellini using 1 part fresh strawberry purée to 3 parts chilled Prosecco.
GIN DRINKS

There are three famous gin drinks sold at Harry's Bar: one dry, one sweet, and one bitter. Along with the Bellini, they are bottled and sold all over Europe and the United States.

The Montgomery is our dry martini. It was named by Ernest Hemingway in honor of the British general who, he claimed, would fight the enemy only if he had 15 soldiers to their one. That was the proportion of gin to dry vermouth in the martinis Hemingway ordered. At Harry's Bar the proportion we use is actually 10 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth. The martinis are frozen in their glasses before serving.

A Doge combines 2 parts gin with 1 part sweet vermouth. Carpano is the vermouth we use at Harry's Bar.

The Cardinale is a combination of 6 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth and 3 parts campari.
WINE

First of all, I think wine should always be decanted into a glass pitcher. However impressive the label is, it can't compare to the pleasure of seeing the actual wine. When you pour the wine into the pitcher and see a little foam, that means the wine is alive.

Then there's the question of glasses. To hold a feather-light octagonal Murano glass in your hand is always a moving experience, but drinking out of it is something else. The same is true of color. If wine is to be tasted in all its full-bodied essence, it needs to be looked at first, naked as a beautiful woman. I don't like glasses that are too big, because they are very often just exercises in virtuosity. Our wineglasses at Harry's Bar are quite small and plain and well balanced–they don't get in the way of one's enjoyment of the wine.

I think people make a bit of a fetish about wine. They worry about drinking the "wrong" wine and are afraid their ignorance will be exposed. I think wine is to be enjoyed with food, and you should drink the wine you like. You can tell when you've found the right wine for you–the more of it you drink, the more you want! You can easily find a good wine to fit any budget–you shouldn't feel you have to choose an expensive wine.

For this reason my father always insisted that we have a good house wine in Harry's Bar. Eighty percent of the wine we sell is the house wine, in glass pitchers. The white is a soave from Verona; the red is a cabernet from Friuli. It's important that the white wines be young, and the reds not more than a couple of seasons old–otherwise the wines will be too heavy and they'll overpower the food, which is basically light.

As with anything else, there are people who have made a special study–a very pleasant one, I should think–of wine. For those people who know what they want and are prepared to pay for it, we have a relatively small, carefully selected list of fine wines. We present the wine list only when someone asks for it–we don't want to force people to order from the wine list. We've suggested Italian and American wines for the dishes we serve, but we also think you can't go wrong with a good red and a good white, your own version of the house wines. I suspect that often the wines from the list are chosen in an effort to impress a guest rather than for their own merits.

Certainly one of my most paralyzing memories is what I now refer to as the champagne affair. Every September one of our regular customers, a very wealthy Italian, would arrive on his yacht for his annual stay in Venice. He was a man in his sixties and, like many Italians, a great Anglophile. One morning he arrived at Harry's Bar with a special bottle of champagne he wanted to serve at a party he was holding that night for some important guests. The champagne was a vintage Krug he had purchased in England–only the nonvintage variety was sold in Italy.

He arrived punctually that evening with hi...

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