The Hugo Spritz Is Poised to Become the Drink of Summer—Here's Why

If you like Aperol Spritzes, you'll love this even more refreshing twist that's taking over trendy cocktail bars in the Mediterranean and beyond.

Our recent "drink of summer" selections have included the Espresso Martini and Dirty Shirley. But according to the cocktail pros we spoke with, it’s high time for the Hugo Spritz to shine. Find out why this easy cocktail recipe might just be the drink of summer, then discover how to make a single Hugo Spritz recipe or a pitcher Hugo Spritz that’s perfect for parties.

Perhaps it’s the more relaxed vibe, ample amounts of perfect patio weather, the handful of long weekends, the warm temps; or maybe it’s a mash-up of all of the above. Regardless of the reason, we know what we seek out when selecting candidates for the drink of summer: something that’s colorful, refreshing, and not too boozy so we can still enjoy the rest of the day and week sans regrets—even if we sip on a few throughout a toasty day. 

Related: How Mocktails Are Driving the Sober Curious Movement, in Dry January and Beyond 

Hugo Spritz summer cocktail

Grant Webster

Why Hugo Spritzes Are Trending

BHG sent out a request to dozens of mixologists from coast to coast to help select the drink of summer. We received several creative submissions (and drink ideas we hope rise to the top soon!). But the universal theme was that this summer will once again be about the spritz. Hilton Hotels & Resorts food and beverage experts from across the U.S. predict that creative spritzes will be huge, and Lex Madden, bar manager at Point Easy in Denver, Colorado echoed that sentiment.

“The spritz is absolutely the drink of the summer! The Aperol Spritz craze a few summers back really blew this one open, and now we’re seeing guests and our bartenders starting to expand their horizons as we think of ways to riff on the theme,” Madden tells BHG.

The standard Aperol Spritz formula is 3-2-1, or three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part club soda or seltzer water. You can use that same formula and play with the wine element (say, with rosé or Lambrusco) or with different aperitifs or liqueurs in place of citrusy, aromatic, and herbal Aperol.

“This year, spritzes are moving away from a more bitter edge and toward a more playful and juicier expression on the spritz. The spritz definitely feeds into the seltzer culture; light, social, and very pretty, yet it still feels very adult,” Madden continues. “Best of all—and this is why we think it’s really the drink of the summer)—spritzes tend to be low-ABV, usually in the 4% to 5% range. That means it’s something you can enjoy throughout the day and not feel like you’re going to end up on the floor.”

Wine spritzes date back to the Veneto region of Northern Italy 1800s. They commonly star the aforementioned Aperol, Campari, limoncello or other spirits, as well as sparkling wine and water. Since prosecco is the bubbly that’s produced in Italy, it’s the go-to for many spritzes; Spanish Cava, French Champagne, or any kind of global sparkling wine also works.

Related: 5 Common Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes When Serving Champagne 

As far as the “Hugo” element goes, it’s especially timely to turn to this cocktail concept on the heels of the increased interest in—and tourism to—Italy on the heels of ultra-popular The White Lotus and Searching for Italy, Stanley Tucci’s taste bud-tempting TV food tour. Thanks to these shows and new regional cookbooks like Misty Robbins’ Pasta: The Spirit and Craft of Italy's Greatest Food, with Recipes, Susan Gravely’s Italy on a Plate: Travels, Memories, Menus, and Giulia Scarpaleggia’s Cucina Povera: The Italian Way of Transforming Humble Ingredients into Unforgettable Meals, Americans are no longer viewing Italy as a monolith. Just like the U.S., Italy is full of local delights and delicacies.

The Hugo Spritz is believed to have been created in 2005 by Roland Gruber, a bartender in a northern Italian province called South Tyrol in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains. Hugo is also the name of a boutique hotel in Florence, and this drink is often used to welcome travelers as they arrive after a long day of hiking, which might be where this beverage gets its name. In the 18 years since it's creation, the Hugo Spritz is rising in popularity and spreading across Europe to become a common bar menu feature in Croatia (that's where I first tried this summer 2022!), Austria, Switzerland, Germany…and now the U.S.

Gruber’s Hugo is an alternative to the more-common Aperol Spritz, which has roots in nearby Padua, Italy. The Hugo Spritz simply calls for replacing the OG aperitif with elderflower syrup or liqueur (aka St-Germain). Instead of the orange garnish, swap in lime slices and mint and you have an invigorating, fizzy, and slightly boozy drink that will perk you up rather than taking you down.

“Spritzes are insanely refreshing and if you have more than one it’s not going to take you out of commission for the rest of the afternoon,” Madden says.

Related: Our Guide to Everything You Need to Know to Choose and Serve Wine

How to Make a Hugo Spritz Cocktail

To make one Hugo Spritz, start with a wine glass filled half full with ice. Pour in 1/2 ounce of elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain, top with 4 ounces of prosecco, and finish with 1 ounce of sparkling water or club soda. Using a straw or bartender’s spoon, gently stir to combine. Taste a sip; add more sparkling water or wine to balance things out as desired. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and lime slices. 

To make a party-sized batch cocktail, add 2 cups of elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain, to a pitcher. Top with 1 bottle of prosecco, and finish with 1 cup of sparkling water or club soda. Using a straw or bartender’s spoon, stir the ingredients to blend. Again, taste a sip. If desired, add more sparkling water or wine to reach your desired flavor balance and strength level. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and lime slices, then invite everyone to pour their own serving into ice-filled wine glasses.

Once you discover how easy—and how refreshing—the Hugo Spritz is to DIY, you might join Team BHG and have it on repeat this spring and summer as well. After you’ve given this a shot, feel free to revisit some of our other recent drink trends, including Parmesan Espresso Martinis, Pistachio Martinis, Negroni Sbagliatos, and Matcha Martinis. Cheers!

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