Doing my part to make the Hugo Spritz more popular at home
If you’ve never had a Hugo Spritz, chances are that you don’t live in Europe. You’ll find this delightful Italian aperitif on the menus of bars in many European countries, and, if you’ve gotten a little tired of the Aperol spritz, or just want a change, the Hugo is for you. It’s simple to make, unfussy yet sophisticated, and refreshes like nothing else on a warm day.
The first time I saw a Hugo Spritz
Mojitos? Huh, I thought as I surveyed my group of colleagues sitting around a table at a Vienna hotel lobby bar. I’d arrived a bit late after a long day at a conference and found everyone sipping drinks garnished with limes and mint. As I couldn’t imagine that these mojitos were any good at all, I ordered a glass of white wine.
Is that what they call Mojitos in Vienna?
“I do so love a Hugo,” one colleague sighed.
“Is that what they call Mojitos here?” I asked.
My European colleagues all looked surprised, and then one of them said, “Oooohhhh. I know why you thought that. No, this is a Hugo. You must have thought we were all a bunch of lushes!” We had a good laugh and then one of them explained that a Hugo was this lovely light drink with elderflower and prosecco. She offered me a sip.
I’ve enjoyed Hugos in Europe ever since
Oh, what a delightful drink! I had Hugos the rest of the trip, and, indeed anywhere in my European travels where I saw them on a menu. Oddly enough, I never thought of making them at home until I found myself really wanting one as I sat by the pool a couple of weeks ago. I was also missing one of my dear friends, who absolutely adores elderflower liqueur. I texted her a picture.
Origins of the Hugo Spritz
A relatively new addition to the aperitif world, the Hugo (pronounced OOH-go) Spritz has its origins in the Tyrol region of Italy in 2005 by Roland Gruber (grazie, sir), who developed it as an alternative to the Aperol Spritz. From there, it spread in Europe, but, for some reason, I don’t remember ever seeing it in the US. I’ve found recipes for it online, but, seeing as how I hadn’t seen it on bar menus, and most of my US friends don’t know it, I figured that I’d do my part to spread the good Hugo word.
An easy drink to make
The Hugo Spritz has to be one of the easier drinks to make, and you don’t need any special equipment or mixology skills (full disclosure: I have extremely limited bartending skills, leaving most of my cocktails to the professionals). How I’ve understood it, though I’ve seen plenty of variations, the classic measurements are 2 parts elderflower liqueur (such as St Germain), 1 part club soda, and 3 parts prosecco, served with mint and lime over ice.
A gallery of Hugo Spritzes from my travels
Some of these Hugos tasted better than others, but I enjoyed all of them.
Experiment with what works for you
Feel free to experiment with the formula to arrive at something that works for you—everyone else does. In Montenegro, I’m fairly certain that my Hugos were made with white wine instead of prosecco (and it was garnished with a lemon), and I’ve had plenty with more club soda that prosecco to make it less boozy (it is a bit more potent than the Aperol Spritz, but still light).
Smack the mint or muddle it
Traditionally you muddle the mint, but I’ve mostly seen bartenders smack it with their hands, and that’s what I did to make it easier and to help ensure that the mint is subtle and not overpowering (also muddling in a wine delicate wine glass makes me nervous—see lack of bartending experience).
Stir and enjoy
Once you’ve added all of the ingredients, give your lovely drink a stir, garnish with a little more mint if you wish, and enjoy. I find sitting poolside to be a wonderful accompaniment, as are sunsets.
Have you had a Hugo Spritz?
What about you? Have you had a Hugo Spritz before? How much do you love it? Let us know in the comments!
- 2 ounces elderflower liqueur, such as St Germain 60 ml
- 1 ounce club soda 30 ml (seltzer is an acceptable substitute)
- 3 ounces prosecco 89 ml
- 2 slices lime
- 1 sprig mint plus more for serving, optional
- Fill a wine glass up halfway with ice. Take the sprig of mint and smack it a couple of times between your palms. Add the mint to the glass, along with the lime slices.2 slices lime, 1 sprig mint, ice
- Add the St Germain, followed by the club soda, and top with the prosecco. Give it a quick stir2 ounces elderflower liqueur, such as St Germain, 1 ounce club soda, 3 ounces prosecco
- Serve garnished with more mint, if desired. Best enjoyed poolside or outside with a view.