Hugo: The Alpine Spritz
Story and photos by Tom Weber
Here's a palate-pleasing Italian aperitivo (cocktail)
to wrap your hand around that's already a big hit up in the South Tyrol
and a serious rival to the more popular and classic Spritz
It's called the Spritz Hugo (Spritz
Ugo in Italian, pronounced OOH-goh). It's the preferred aperitivo
summer or winter around the Dolomites.
Refreshing and light, the Spritz Hugo has been high-altitude
tested by respected baristas.
Germans and Austrians will no doubt disagree, but this
aperitivo was created in 2005 by Italian barista Roland Gruber
at the San Zeno Wine & Cocktail Bar in Naturno, where German
is spoken and Italian understood.
Gruber jump-started the craze by mixing Prosecco
sparkling wine, seltzer water, fresh mint leaves and lemon syrup, and
casually called his creation the Hugo/Ugo, for no apparent reason.
He later twinked the recipe, dropping the lemon syrup
and adding a syrup made from the flowers of an indigenous plant that
thrives all across the European Alps Elderberry. And, the real
Spritz Hugo was born and continues to stand on the top
rung of the ladder of popularity around bars, chalets and other watering
holes that dot the landscape.
Elderberry Sambucus Nigra (Latin), Sambuco
Nero (Italian) is the plant from whose flowers (Elderflowers)
are transformed into Sciroppo di Sambuco, a syrupy-sweet cordial
that is the key ingredient to a properly prepared Spritz Hugo.
Not to be mistaken with Sambuca the strong,
licorice-flavored, clear Italian liquor with the signature three coffee
beans (mosquitos) floating in the glass Sciroppo di Sambuco
is bright yellow, very sweet and comes out thick, like a syrup should.
Very little of the Elderflower syrup is needed in the
Spritz Hugo, just enough to let you know that it's in
there. The Hugo is approximately 4/5 Prosecco and
1/5 Elderflower Syrup, a 4-to-1 ratio between the two primary liquids.
Care to make one? Great. Let's mosey on up to the virtual
bar and get our hands a bit sticky using a fresh bottle of homemade
Sciroppo di Sambuco from up in the Val Pusteria area of the Dolomites.
Step-1: Add ice cubes to the glass
Step-2: Add the Prosecco
Step-3: Add the Syrup
Step-4: Splash in the Water
Step-5: Garnish with Mint leaves and Lemon slice
Step-6: Stir gently to mix fully
The Dolomite-tested Spritz Hugo. It's
the low-octane, high-altitude Italian aperitivo (cocktail) preferred
by skiers, snowboarders, hikers and trekkers alike. One sip will have
you smiling and dreaming about a winter or summer vacation up in the
Please. Drink responsibly.