The Hugo: An Effervescent Elixir of Floral Bliss

Introducing the Hugo cocktail, a delightful and refreshing spritz that tantalizes the taste buds with its harmonious blend of flavors. According to Rysse Goldfarb, a cocktail expert and founder of Mommy Mixology, the Hugo is a bubbly, wine-based concoction with low alcohol content. Served over ice in a wine glass, it features a combination of elderflower liqueur, prosecco, soda water, and fresh mint.

You can garnish the Hugo with lime slices or wedges to enhance its visual appeal. For those seeking an extra kick, some variations even include a dash of gin. While traditionally enjoyed as an aperitif before a meal, the Hugo is incredibly versatile and suitable for any occasion, especially when dining al fresco during the warmer months, as suggested by Goldfarb.

The most popular choice for elderflower liqueur is the French brand St-Germain, known for its hand-picked elderflower blossoms and 20% ABV. However, if you prefer a non-alcoholic option, you can substitute elderflower cordial or syrup instead.

Lynnette Marrero, chief mixologist at Delola and co-founder of the speed bartending competition, Speed Rack, mentions that while many are familiar with elderflower liqueurs like St-Germain, there are alternative options available. Belvoir elderflower soda is one such alternative, and some individuals even prefer locally made floral elderflower cordial, which involves fermenting elderflowers and sugar in the sun.

Regardless of the specific ingredients used, the result is a perfectly balanced and light libation, pleasing to the palate. Joseph Fredrickson, national board director of the United States Bartender Guild, paints a vivid picture of the Hugo’s sensory experience. He describes it as a refreshing and effervescent cocktail that captivates with its vibrant floral aroma and invigorating mint. The prosecco contributes delightful honeyed notes, while the drink’s semi-sweet elderflower and lemongrass flavors playfully dance on the tongue, culminating in a refreshing finish. This carbonated elixir is the perfect accompaniment for a sunny summer day, creating cherished moments shared with loved ones.

Journey to the Austrian-Italian border circa 2005, where the captivating Hugo cocktail first emerged. Bartender Calliope Draper traces its origins to the charming bar San Zeno, nestled within the picturesque commune of Naturns in South Tyrol. Renowned bartender Roland Gruber, also known as A.K., is widely credited with inventing this exceptional libation.

The original Hugo recipe combined prosecco, a touch of soda, fresh mint, and a splash of lemon balm syrup, as explained by Bradley Thomas Stephens, co-owner of the esteemed cocktail bar Cereus PDX and education chair at the United States Bartenders’ Guild. Inspired by the legacy of the white spritz, or spritz liscio, the Hugo spritz embraces the invigorating essence of mint and citrus, harmoniously complemented by the effervescence of prosecco and carbonated water.

Since its inception, the Hugo spritz has swiftly made its way across Europe, becoming an integral part of the region’s vibrant aperitif culture. Rooted in Italian heritage, the pronunciation of its name leans toward “Ugo,” adding an authentic touch to its character.

Stephens highlights that the Hugo spritz has garnered a devoted following, transcending borders and captivating enthusiasts throughout Italy, Austria, Germany, and beyond. In fact, its popularity has even led to the creation of canned ready-to-drink versions, offering a convenient and satisfying option that surpasses the expectations of traditional canned seltzers.

Immerse yourself in the refreshing alpine spirit embodied by the Hugo spritz—a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of bartenders continually pushing the boundaries of mixology. Raise your glass and toast to the invigorating allure of the Hugo, a true embodiment of indulgence and effervescence.