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 Veneziano (Venetian Spritz).
It’s called the Spritz Hugo (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 baristi.
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 jumpstarted the craze by mixing Prosecco sparkling wine, seltzer water, fresh mint leaves and a syrup made from the flowers of an indigenous plant that thrives in the mountains — Elderberry.
Elderberry — Sambucus Nigra (Latin), Sambuco Nero (Italian) — is the plant from whose flowers (Elderflowers) are transformed into Sciroppo di Sambuco, a deep-yellow sweet cordial that is the key ingredient to a properly prepared Spritz Hugo.
Not too much 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, or just about a 4-to-1 ratio.
Care to make one? Great. Let’s mosey on up to the virtual bar and get our hands a bit sticky using a bottle of homemade
Sciroppo di Sambuco from up in the Val Pusteria.
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 cocktail preferred by skiers, snowboarders, hikers and trekkers alike.
Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog
, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based The Palladian Traveler.com , and is a member of the TravelingBoy.com . Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.” International Travel Writers Alliance