Spritzes are ideal for warm weather, with a combination of bubbles, lower alcohol and plenty ice and this Hugo spritz cocktail is no exception. It’s easy to make, with a bright, refreshing flavor and a touch of aromatic sweetness from the St Germain. Perfect summer sipping.
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These days the aperol spritz seems to be the most dominant version, but in reality, there are a whole host of spritz cocktails that are worth trying. In Northern Italy, you'll find variations in many towns using different bitter liqueurs along with sparking wine/prosecco and soda water.
I’ve previously shared the lillet spritz which has a lovely lightness, and this one too has a nice balance of aromatic flavors.
The name spritz comes from the German “spritzen” meaning to splash or squirt. The story goes that during the Austro-Hungarian empire, visiting soldiers from elsewhere found Italian wine too strong so lightened it with a splash of water. This idea is what many people call a wine spritzer.
Over time, the idea evolved from flat to sparkling water, to use sparkling wine and also adding an additional element.
Where is the Hugo spritz from?
This particular variation on the theme is believes to have originated in South Tirol in the North of Italy. It has then spread and is particularly popular in neighboring Austria and Southern Germany.
The original Hugo Spritz was created by Roland Gruber and made with lemon balm syrup, soon largely changed to elderflower syrup since it is more widely available.
I know elderflower syrup or cordial well from the UK as a great base to make a light drink with either sparkling, cold or warm water, depending on the season. If you can find some, I do recommend it for a nice light drink, even if not for this.
The syrup seems to be much harder to find in the US and so St Germain elderflower liqueur is generally used instead (and is certainly a much more common bar item in general). It has much the same combination of aromatic flavor and slight sweetness, and only adds slightly to the alcohol content of the drink.
Is it the same as a St Germain spritz?
Almost, but not quite. Even when made with elderflower liqueur rather than syrup, this is not quite the same as what is generally called a St Germain spritz. That generally has a higher proportion of St Germain in the drink, and also the garnish is different.
A St Germain spritz tends to have a lemon twist garnish, while a Hugo spritz has a sprig of mint and slice of lime in the drink itself. These make it that little more fresh and, especially when made with less liqueur, less sweet.
You'll find a little variation on the proportions. St Germain's website gives the same proportion for a St Germain as a Hugo spritz of 3 parts liqueur to 4 parts prosecco, and 4 parts soda water.
The typical traditional recipe with syrup uses a much smaller proportion, more like 1 part syrup to 4 parts prosecco with a splash of soda, and some recipes translate this across to liqueur as well.
I’ve gone in between but on the lower side liqueur-wise as detailed below, as I prefer it to not be too sweet. But you can play around with the exact proportions to suit your own taste. I do, either way, recommend a dry (brut) prosecco or other sparkling wine.
How to serve this drink
The only real typical ‘rules’ for this style of drink is to use a wine glass and serve over plenty ice. Then with this particular drink, as mentioned, you typically include mint and lime as in-glass garnishes.
A Hugo spritz is a lovely twist on the sparkling aperitif cocktail theme, being light, aromatic and with a gentle sweetness. It's easy to make and perfect to enjoy on a warm day.
Try these other light cocktails:
- 1 stem mint
- ¾ oz St Germain 22ml (or use elderflower syrup as original, if available)
- 3 oz prosecco 90ml (or use 4oz/120ml if you prefer)
- 1 oz sparkling water 30ml
- 1 slice lime
- Slap the stem of mint across your hand to gently release some of the oils then place in the bottom of a wine glass (cut shorter if long). Add a few pieces of ice to the glass.
- Pour in the St Germain/elderflower syrup then add the prosecco. Slide the slice of lime down the side of the glass then top up with the sparkling water.