A lively, witty history of the iconic Italian drinking establishment, a meeting place for literary and artistic luminaries for nearly a century.
On the short list of the world’s most famous watering holes—Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris, Jo’s Bar in Prague, the Antico Caffè Greco in Rome—Harry’s Bar in Venice stands virtually without peer. Just off the Palazzo San Marco, Harry’s is known for its timeless decor and luxurious ambience, which have often been imitated but never duplicated. Though technically a restaurant—carpaccio was invented there in 1950—Harry’s has, since 1931, been the preferred place to “bend the elbow” for a diverse assemblage of writers, artists, models, actors, and business tycoons. Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Sinclair Lewis, and Truman Capote are among the celebrity tipplers who have sampled its famous cocktails (most notably the now-ubiquitous Bellini, first concocted there sometime between 1934 and 1948).
Arrigo Cipriani’s colorful, anecdotal memoir gives us the view from behind the bar, blending stories from the life of his father, Giuseppe, legendary cofounder of Harry’s, with mixocological secrets and tales of famous patrons. Filled with engaging wit and lighthearted charm, Cipriani’s history is a delight to read—and the next best thing to a table at Harry’s Bar itself.