As he himself recounted, the name derives from Harry Pickering, a rich, young man from Boston that frequented the hotel Europa in Venice where Cipriani used to work as a bartender. Pickering suddenly stopped attending the bar and when Cipriani asked him why, he responded that he was broke since his family, who had discovered his drinking habits, decided to cut his incomes.
Cipriani, feeling pity towards the man, gave him 10,000 lire, a great sum for that era, which would allow him to go back to America. Two years later, Pickering returned to the hotel bar, ordered a drink, and payed a sum of 50,000 lire.
"Thank you, Mr. Cipriani," he said. "Here is the money and to show you my gratitude, here are another 40,000, enough to open a bar. We'll call it Harry's Bar".
The Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs declared it a national heritage in 2001.
Harry's Bar soon became a very successful venue and is frequented by many illustrious guests, including Ernest Hemingway, who, between 1949 and 1950, became a regular customer to the point of having a personal table.