Harry’s Bar in Venice is one of the most illustrious cocktail bars and restaurants in the city and its fame is worldwide. Today it is run by the charismatic Arrigo Cipriani, son of Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder who invented Beef Carpaccio Alla Cipriani and the Bellini cocktail. Let's discover the history of this legendary place and all the information you need to have something to eat and sip the cocktail of your choice.
The history of Harry's bar in Venice
The story behind the bar and its opening in 1931.
The story goes back to the year 1920, when a young American, Harry Pickering, went to Europe with his aunt to treat his alcoholism. After having a serious argument with her, he found himself alone in Venice without a penny. He then met Giuseppe Cipriani, a hotel bartender, who gave him some money so he could go back to America. More than ten years later, Harry returned to Italy to look for his benefactor so he could reimburse the money – a large sum – and thank him. Giuseppe Cipriani used that money to found his own establishment and named it Harry’s Bar.
The bar was inaugurated on May 13, 1931 and its success was immediate. A stone's throw from Saint Mark's Square, the bar attracted regular customers, notably intellectuals like Ernest Hemingway, who had a table reserved there every day in the winter of 1949; it is where he wrote his novel "Across the River and Into the Trees". Other celebrities have signed the only guestbook, for example Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Truman Capote, Georges Braque, and Peggy Guggenheim.
The 'secret' recipes of Giuseppe Cipriani: Carpaccio and the Bellini Cocktail
The simple cuisine that the restaurant serves, which combines seafood and traditional dishes, is renowned. Giuseppe Cipriani invented Carpaccio, thin slices of raw beef seasoned with olive oil and lemon oil and sprinkled with Parmesan shavings. He named the dish after the famous Venetian painter because of the bright colors that the master used in his paintings.
Specialised in cocktails, Giuseppe concocted some blends that have become famous, including the Bellinicocktail, perfected in 1948. This cocktail, which has since become famous all over the world, is made from Prosecco, a sparkling Venetian wine, and peach nectar. It owes its name to the Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini whom Cipriani admired.
In 2001, Harry’s Bar was declared a national heritage by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
Harry's bar today
Harry’s bar has become a legendary place and is very popular with wealthy tourists. The place has maintained its very simple decorations in a luxury brasserie style. The service is impeccable and the menu is abundant, containing all the local specialties: pasta, ravioli, risotto, fish, salads. ClassicItalian cuisine, rich and delicious.
Its prices, however, will not suit all budgets: salads cost from 21 to 30 €, club sandwiches and hamburgers cost 37 €, pasta and rice 40 €, the famous carpaccio starts at 58 €, fish at 60 €, and desserts cost between 25 and 30 €!
Some advice? Ask for a table on the first floor near the windows to enjoy the view of the Grand Canal.
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