What is a Hugo Cocktail?
A refreshing aperitif made from a simple blend of elderflower cordial and dry Prosecco with fresh mint and lime, the Hugo Cocktail is Europe’s best-kept secret. It was created in the Tyrol region of Italy in 2005 by barman Roland Fruber and quickly became the must-have summer drink in the Alpine regions of Europe.
Now, it seems that the rest of the world is finally catching up. Elderflower, with its delicate floral taste profile, has become the must-have ingredient in recent years, gaining a Royal seal of approval in 2018 when Prince Harry and Megan Markle chose an elderflower and lemon flavoured wedding cake. It goes well with sharp, fruity flavours, and can be used to add a delicious, fragrant note to cordials, jams and jellies. The Hugo cocktail showcases elderflower at its best, paired with sharp, zesty lime and refreshing mint, and this Italian favourite looks set to take the world by storm. It’s simple list of ingredients make it easy to prepare at home, and its lightness, low-alcohol content, and the dryness of the Prosecco make it the perfect pre-dinner drink.
How is Hugo cocktail different from normal Aperol Spritz?
The Hugo is a type of Spritz, a simple cocktail made from a mix of wine and water. The Spritz is thought to have originated during the Hapsburg rule of the Veneto area of Italy in the 1800s, when German-speaking
merchants and diplomats, unused to strong Venetian wines, would ask for a dash of water, or ‘spritzen’ in their drinks. The first Spritzes were typically made from sparkling wine and water, but as their popularity spread around the world, people began experimenting with different flavours and combinations. By the early twentieth century, Spritzes were being served everywhere from cosy pre-dinner drinks to lavish society events, and had become a traditional favourite in Italy, Austria and Germany.
Aperol emerged as Italy’s favourite Spritz in the 1950s. Created by the Barbieri brothers in Padua in 1919, this bitter aperitif is made from rhubarb, gentian and cinchona, and has a similar taste and vivid orange colour to Campari, but with half the alcohol content. It’s Spritz is made from a combination of Prosecco, Aperol, and soda, with the proportions adjusted according to taste, and is garnished with a slice of orange.
Aperol Spritz remains a favourite aperitif to this day, but its bitter flavour can make it an acquired taste. The Hugo was created as an alternative to the Aperol Spritz, supposedly inspired by the elderflower trees growing on the side of the alps. Bitter Aperol is replaced by a touch of elderflower cordial with lime and mint, making a lighter, crisper drink.
How to make a Hugo cocktail
A basic Hugo cocktail couldn’t be simpler to make, and you can experiment with the ingredients too, if you’re looking for something a little different. If you miss the vibrant colour of the Aperol Spritz, you can use pink Prosecco to add a delicate blush colour to your Hugo, or if you want to keep a clear head, try alcohol-free Prosecco to make a Hugo mocktail. If you’re looking for something stronger, you can add a shot of gin, or swap the cordial for St Germain elderflower liqueur.
For the classic Hugo cocktail recipe, you will need:
30ml Elderflower cordial
Good quality, dry Prosecco
Sparkling water or German Seltzer
Large wine glasses, to serve.
Step by Step Guide
Fill each glass with a handful of crushed ice and add some torn mint leaves.
Muddle the mint leaves to release the mint oil into the glass, and add a few slices of lime.
Pour 30ml of elderflower cordial over the ice, mint and lime, and add a dash of sparkling water.
Stir the mixture briefly, then top up with Prosecco.
Serve and enjoy.