In just 5 minutes, you'll be sipping on a refreshing drink that only requires a handful of ingredients to make. This classic Italian Hugo spritz cocktail is full of floral and fresh flavors, perfect for those warm summer months.
After spending time attending culinary school in Italy, I became very familiar with many different Italian-style spritzes. Using this experience as inspiration, I went home and made my version of this super refreshing 5 ingredient Hugo spritz recipe.
In five minutes, you'll be sipping on a lovely floral and light cocktail. If you enjoy this recipe, you’re bound to enjoy other spritz-style cocktails like this limoncello spritz.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
- What makes a Hugo spritz unique compared to other classic Italian spritzes.
- An easy ingredient swap to make this cocktail taste completely different.
- How to give this cocktail a little extra boozy boost.
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What Is A Hugo Spritz?
The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails states that the spritz cocktail was first made in the 1840s. The original recipe used white wine and seltzer water.
This concoction was made in the northeast of Italy where soldiers wanted to make wine resemble the characteristics of beer with the carbonation and lower alcohol percentage.
This style of drink has remained popular throughout time, and different bitters and flavors were tried and tested in these drinks. The most popular spritz came from the Campari company which acquired Aperol in 2003. The infamous Aperol spritz hit the market and has spread and is now enjoyed across the world.
In 2005, the Hugo spritz was created in a small town in the Northern-Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige. Bar manager Ronald Gruber wanted to take a spritz and incorporate fresh aromatic flavors into it. This drink quickly spread in popularity and now you can enjoy this refreshing Italian cocktail all over the world.
Ingredients You Need
The best part about this recipe is that you’ll only need 5 simple ingredients for this Hugo drink.
St-Germain elderflower liqueur: This is a sweet French-made liqueur that uses fresh elderflowers picked during bloom to give a fresh floral flavor. This liqueur was developed by a third-generation distiller who launched into the market in 2007.
St-Germain is made during the springtime when elderflowers are in bloom. Producers have to work quickly to ensure they get the most flavor and aroma out of the flowers. They are soaked in a neutral spirit, then sugar is added to sweeten the liqueur.
This is a great liqueur for light and fresh cocktails such as this Hugo cocktail.
Fresh mint leaves: The mint is added to the cocktail to provide a fresh herbal flavor as well as used to garnish to provide a bright visual appeal. Mint is a great addition to complement the aromas and flavors of the elderflower.
Lemon wedge: Lemon adds yet another bright, fresh taste to this Hugo spritz cocktail. The acidity of the lemon works fabulously with the flavors from the elderflower and mint.
If you desire, you can use a lime wedge instead to give a more tropical vibe to the spritz.
Prosecco: The best way to balance this cocktail is to use a dry brut prosecco or champagne.
Prosecco is the most popular sparkling wine because of the quality for the price. While you could opt to use champagne in this recipe, it ultimately comes down to your budget.
Prosecco stems from Northern Italy, with its most prominent producer being the region of Veneto. Part of the reason it is so much more affordable compared to champagne is that it can be made in multiple regions.
Real champagne, on the other hand, has to come from the region of Champagne, France and they only produce a fraction of what prosecco production does.
While popping the cork is great for a party, I was shown by Italian sommelier instructors the proper way to remove the cork. With a towel in hand, hold the cork tightly, being sure to point away from your body. With your other hand, grab the opposite side of the bottle and twist slowly.
When the cork is just about ready to come off, wiggle it very gently until it comes free. With a bit of practice, you won't hear any noise coming from the bottle.
Soda water: Soda water is a generic term for any sort of plain sparkling or carbonated water. As long as you see that the label says club soda, seltzer, or soda water, it will work for this recipe.
Soda water is used to give the cocktail some extra fizz without adding a new flavor to the drink. If you want a less alcoholic drink, feel free to substitute the prosecco for soda water.
I don’t recommend using tonic water instead of soda water because it has a different taste. Tonic water has both additional sweetener and quinine, which is a compound found in cinchona tree bark.
How To Make This Recipe
Now you can set your timer because in 5 minutes you will be sipping on a super refreshing Italian Hugo spritz.
1. The first thing you're going to want to do is grab a clean wine glass.
In this glass, add the St-Germain elderflower liqueur, mint leaves, and a lemon wedge. Gently muddle the ingredients to release the lemon juice and activate the mint flavors.
It is important to be gentle when you are muddling so you don't break your wine glass.
Once muddled, fill the glass with ice. If it's particularly hot out and you want a colder drink, add more ice.
2. Once the ice is added, you can now top your drink with prosecco and soda water. When the bubbles have been added, give the cocktail a good stir with a bar spoon to ensure that all the flavors are mixed well.
This style of cocktail-making is known as the build-up method. All this method consists of is building your cocktail directly in the glass you are serving it in.
It is also important to taste your cocktail now before you serve it. Tasting will allow you to understand if you may want to adjust the drink by adding in a bit more of one ingredient or another.
3. Lastly, you have the option to garnish with additional mint leaves.
Gently clap your mint on your hand before placing it as a garnish on the Hugo spritz. Fresh herbs such as mint, sage, lavender, or basil should all be clapped like this because it helps release the oils inside the plants, providing stronger aromatics to please your senses.
It is important not to clap too hard and crush your mint, while it may smell the same, it will lose the visual appeal, arguably the most important part of a cocktail garnish.
- If you prefer to make your Hugo spritz without prosecco, simply substitute the prosecco for soda water. This version of the cocktail really highlights the flavors of the elderflower liqueur.
- If you want a stronger Hugo spritz, you have the option to add in a shot (1 oz or 30ml) of vodka. If you have no problems with the taste of vodka, this is a great option for a more powerful cocktail.
- If you want this cocktail to be sweeter, add in a dash of simple syrup.
A Hugo spritz is a drink invented in Northern Italy in 2005 with aspirations to be floral and refreshing. Nowadays, this cocktail requires elderflower liqueur, Prosecco, mint, lemon, and soda water.
Yes, simply mix all of the ingredients together, then serve using a chilled beverage dispenser. Don’t add ice to the dispenser because it melts and dilutes the flavors of your cocktail.
Here's the recipe for a large batch that serves 10 people:
2 ½ cups (590 ml) St. Germain elderflower liqueur
5 cups (1 L) chilled prosecco
1 ¼ cups (295 ml) chilled soda water
You cannot make a Hugo spritz ahead of time. This cocktail has two different carbonated components, both of which will fade if the drink sits for too long.
Salty snacks are a great way to balance the sweetness of this drink. If you are not hungry enough for a full meal, snacking on some chips, nuts, or olives is a perfect way to make a balanced pairing.
More Italian Inspired Cocktails
Hugo Spritz (5 Ingredients)
- wine glass
- 2 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- 3 - 4 fresh mint leaves plus more for garnish
- 1 lemon wedge
- 4 ounces chilled prosecco
- 1 ounce chilled soda water
- Add St. Germain elderflower liqueur, mint leaves, and lemon wedge to a wine glass. Gently muddle to release the lemon juice.
- Fill wine glass with ice.
- Top with prosecco and soda water. Stir well using a bar spoon.
- Optionally, garnish with additional mint leaves.