Make Your Next Bellini With Apple Cider For A Cozy Fall Touch

If the mimosa is the evergreen queen of brunch cocktails, the Bellini is the summer princess — an elegant, sparkling, fresh crowd-pleaser with seasonal inspiration, leaning on peach puree as the main flavor component. But when autumn rolls around, an easy and impressive swap for apple cider brings some cozy flair to your fall gathering, any time of day.

Because it features Prosecco, you can consider the classic Bellini a relative of the wildly popular Aperol Spritz. The formula for the original drink is three parts Prosecco to two parts fresh peach puree, which makes it easily adaptable for any occasion and profile. Bellinis have been known to show up in a variety of flavors, from mango-raspberry to pear and more.

When the leaves start to change, and cider starts showing up on your grocer's shelves, though, simply swap the peach puree for your favorite apple cider (with the same ratio of three parts Prosecco to two parts cider), garnish with a dried apple slice, a cinnamon stick, a few candied cranberries, or a sprig of rosemary, and get ready to toast.

The Bellini's origins and why apple cider works

Like many classic Italian recipes, the Bellini was initially inspired by fresh, local produce and a deep tradition of hospitality. Rumors vary regarding the exact timeframe, but it seems famed Venetian bartender, Giuseppe Cipriani, concocted this drink sometime during peach season in the early to mid-20th century to serve his loyal customers at Harry's Bar (among them, such notable guests as Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemingway).

Showcasing the "prodotti tipici" (or "typical products") of a region is central to a broader Italian philosophy, and the Bellini did precisely that. By combining the iconic sparkling wine of the area — Prosecco — and the region's prized white peaches, Cipriani crafted a drink that truly reflected and celebrated his beloved area of the country.

The name Bellini is allegedly a reference to another Venetian treasure — the artist Giovani Bellini. The painter was known for depicting sunsets in his works, and the drink's color called those masterpieces to mind when it came time for Cipriani to give the cocktail a moniker.

The Apple Cider Bellini, while not traditional to Venice, Italy, is an ideal modern riff on the classic. The peach puree in the original is a more viscous, fuller-bodied ingredient than simply using peach juice (as you would in a peach mimosa). Similarly, apple cider, which is a thicker drink than apple juice, is a perfect autumnal substitution that approaches the consistency while switching up the seasonal flavor profile.

More ways to cozily enjoy your fall cider Bellinis

An apple cider Bellini can easily follow Giuseppe Cipriani's master blueprint, but it's also possible to customize the cocktail. Punch things up with a splash of orange liqueur or cognac, give some extra depth with a few dashes of aromatic bitters, or sweeten the deal with a dose of maple syrup or even balsamic vinegar. Your garnishes can be tailored to taste, too. Try floating star anise, clove, or cardamom for subtle variations on the seasonal theme.

When apple cider is abundant in fall, it's easy to find yourself with a fridge full of the stuff. Fortunately, given the versatility of apple cider, you can create a menu of complementary foods to match with your Bellini. On the savory side, concoct a mouth-watering meal like apple cider ham with molasses. If you're opting for brunch Bellinis, apple pancakes with cider-spiced syrup make a perfect, cozy mid-morning match on a crisp fall day.