Make a Festive Brunch Bellini Bar

Turn a midmorning gathering into a very merry fete with a DIY fruity cocktail assembly bar.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Â 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Â 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Â 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Â 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Murello ©Stephen Murello

Bellinis on the Brain

Setting up a Bellini bar for your holiday guests might sound a tad ambitious (especially when you have last-minute stocking stuffing to do), but it's actually remarkably easy. In fact, if you can boil water and work a blender, you're more than capable of making these fun and festive cocktails.

 

A Bellini is made up of just two components: a sweetened fruit puree and a dry Italian sparkling wine called Prosecco (dry or brut champagne also works). The "hardest" part of the whole process is making the fruit puree, but the great news is a) you can make the fruit puree a day ahead of time and b) it's really not that hard at all.

 

Have we convinced you yet? Good. Let's do this.

Get the Recipe: Bellini Bar

First, Fruity Facts

The fruit puree portion of the drink (a blend of fruit and simple syrup) can be as basic or creative as you want. We recommend you use frozen fruit that's been fully thawed. Not only is it a huge timesaver (no washing or chopping necessary), but it allows for the use of otherwise out-of-season berries and fruits.

 

When picking out your fruits and flavors, remember the key to a good Bellini bar is providing your guests with options (at least three or four). Strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, mango and, of course, (the classic and original) peach are all delicious options. Feel free to blend flavors for mixed purees.

 

Step 1: Make the Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is typically made by dissolving equal parts sugar into equal parts water. For Bellinis, a thicker (sweeter) simple syrup made with two parts sugar to one part water is preferred. In the end, however, it's really a matter of taste. Stir 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, for about 5 minutes. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

 

To kick the flavor up an additional notch, you can also infuse your simple syrup with fresh ginger, citrus zest, or spices such as clove or cardamom. Simply add a pinch of the zest or spice to your sugar and water mixture before heating. Once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has cooled, use a strainer to remove the excess spice/flavoring.

 

Step 2: Make the Puree, Chill Everything

Make your purees the afternoon or night before your brunch to ensure a stress-free morning. Add 1/2 cup of the prepared simple syrup along with 1 cup of thawed frozen fruit to your blender. Adding a pinch of orange or lemon zest is also a great way to brighten the flavor. Puree until the mixture is smooth, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to 24 hours, along with your bottles of Prosecco or champagne.

Step 3: Set Up + Serve

A half-hour before your guests arrive for brunch, begin to assemble your bar. Pour your fruit purees into festive pitchers or decanters and arrange them on a beautiful tray or place mat. Label each puree or add a sliver of the fruit to the edge of the pitcher as a natural identifier. Fill small bowls with berries and slices of your featured fruit for guests to add to their drinks. Wait until just before guests arrive to pull the Prosecco bottles out of the fridge.

 

For each serving, pour 2 to 4 tablespoons of the desired fruit puree into a champagne flute. Slowly pour enough Prosecco into the flute to fill. Gently stir to blend. Garnish with the whole berries or slices of fruit, as desired, and serve. Encourage guests to pop bottles and serve themselves.

 

More Bellini Flavors

Get ideas from Cooking Channel chefs on other fruity, spiced or otherwise fragrant purees.

Giada's Peach, Blueberry and Strawberry Bellini Bar

Peach Ginger Bellini

Virgin Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellinis

Orange Cardamom Bellini

Raspberry Bellini