Hugo Cocktail Recipe – Straight from South Tyrol

Aperol spritz is considered the classic Italian cocktail, but its cousin, the refreshing Hugo cocktail (aka Hugo spritz) is a favorite of many Italians, especially in the hot summer months!

The perfect place to drink one is in the Dolomites, while looking at the mountains and the bright green hills. 

But, if you can’t make it to the Dolomites, don’t worry!  I’ve got the authentic recipe for the Hugo cocktail for you – directly from South Tyrol!  That’s right – this is the recipe for the Hugo cocktail.

Thanks to Lorenzo, the talented and knowledgeable bartender at Romantik Hotel Turm, you can make the classic Hugo cocktail at home – and it will taste just like one you’d have in South Tyrol.

Salute!

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What is a Hugo Spritz?

The Hugo cocktail is a refreshing alternative to the popular orange-colored spritz you see on aperitivo tables every evening in Italy. 

It combines the following ingredients:

  • Prosecco
  • Elderflower syrup
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Mint
  • Lime (garnish)

These are the essential ingredients and there shouldn’t be any substitutions or additions. 

Fun Fact:  If you’re in the Dolomites in late May or in June, look for the white elderflowers in bloom!  They also have a lovely scent.

When to Drink the Hugo Spritz

Hugo spritz cocktail with a mountain backdrop.

The Hugo is a classic aperitivo cocktail, especially on a hot, sunny day.  Besides aperitivo, the Hugo spritz is a great choice for:

  • Barbeques with family or friends
  • An evening with the girls
  • A pre-dinner drink in the summer
  • An apres-ski cocktail

You may want to read more about Italian drinks:
Aperitivo – Italian Aperitif
Digestivi – Italy’s Digestifs
How to Make an Aperol Spritz

Origins of the Hugo Cocktail

The Hugo spritz is a ‘young’ cocktail – it was invented in 2005 in Naturns, in South Tyrol (aka Alto Adige in Italian, Südtirol in German) by Roland ‘AK’ Gruber.  He mixed his new version of the spritz at his bar in town.  He played around with the ingredients and eventually came up with his final Hugo spritz recipe.

Hugo Spritz Ingredients*

Hugo spritz cocktail ingredients.
  • 2/3 cup prosecco
  • 1/3 cup sparkling water
  • 1 – 2 tsp elderflower syrup
  • 8 one-oz cubes of ice (or 8 oz ice)
  • Slice of lime
  • A few fresh mint leaves

*Makes one Hugo spritz

Directions for Making the Hugo Spritz

  1. Add the ice to the glass.
  2. Add the elderflower syrup, sparkling water, and prosecco. 
  3. Add the fresh (un-muddled) mint leaves.
  4. Mix gently (you don’t want to ‘de-gas’ the cocktail).
  5. Cut a notch in the lime slice and add it to the side of the glass.
  6. Enjoy!

Hugo Cocktail Recipe Tips

Two Hugo cocktails on a table in the Dolomites, Italy.

If you want to stick to the classic Hugo spritz, keep the following in mind:

  • The key (as with most recipes) is to use quality ingredients – especially a good elderflower syrup and prosecco.  D’arbo syrup (from Austria) is an excellent syrup. 
  • Use a dry prosecco.  The drier the better.  It will complement the sweetness in the elderflower syrup.
  • Use the proportions of the recipe. 
  • Use elderflower syrup – not elderflower berry syrup, elderflower liqueur, or melissa syrup.
  • Add the lime slice to the side of the wine glass rather than inside the glass.  You’ll get a lovely whiff of lime as you drink your Hugo spritz.  The lime complements the drink better than a lemon.
  • You can use any glass, but the Hugo spritz looks best in a long-stemmed wine glass.

Good To Know:  If you’ve tried the Hugo spritz and found it to be too sweet, it wasn’t made using this recipe.  It probably either used a low-quality elderflower syrup, it had too much elderflower syrup, it used a sweet prosecco or if used the sweeter elderflower berry syrup or liqueur. 

I hope you enjoy your Hugo spritz cocktail!

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Hugo cocktail in South Tyrol in Italy.

Hugo Cocktail Recipe – Straight from South Tyrol


  • Author: Candice

Description

The authentic Hugo spritz cocktail recipe – straight from Northern Italy!  A refreshing alternative to Italy’s classic spritz.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2/3 cup prosecco
  • 1/3 cup sparkling water
  • 12 tsp elderflower syrup
  • 8 one-oz cubes of ice (or 8 oz ice)
  • Slice of lime
  • A few fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  • Add the ice to the glass.
  • Add the elderflower syrup, sparkling water, and prosecco.
  • Add the fresh (un-muddled) mint leaves.
  • Mix gently (you don’t want to ‘de-gas’ the cocktail).
  • Cut a notch in the lime slice and add it to the side of the glass.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • The key (as with most recipes) is to use quality ingredients – especially a good elderflower syrup and prosecco.  D’arbo syrup (from Austria) is an excellent syrup.
  • Use a dry prosecco.  The drier the better.  It will complement the sweetness in the elderflower syrup.
  • Use the proportions of the recipe.
  • Use elderflower syrup – not elderflower berry syrup, elderflower liqueur, or melissa syrup.
  • Add the lime slice to the side of the wine glass rather than inside the glass.  You’ll get a lovely whiff of lime as you drink your Hugo spritz.  The lime complements the drink better than a lemon.
  • You can use any glass, but the Hugo spritz looks best in a long-stemmed wine glass.

FAQ

Can I use seltzer water or sparkling mineral water instead of sparkling water?
Yes, you can use seltzer water or sparkling mineral water in this classic Hugo cocktail recipe.

How do you pronounce Hugo spritz?
In Italian, Hugo spritz is pronounced OO-go spreets.

Does the recipe call for melissa syrup?
One of Roland Gruber’s early iterations of the Hugo spritz contained melissa syrup, but he changed it to elderflower syrup.  The elderflower syrup recipe is established as the authentic Hugo spritz recipe, and the one that you’ll get if you visit any bar or restaurant in South Tyrol. 

Can I use a lime wedge in place of a lime slice?
Yes, that’s fine!