- Food & Drink
Do you remember what life was like before Aperol Spritzes? No, me either. Even my parents have a bottle of Aperol in the fridge now. There’s no escape. As soon as the sun crests the clouds and the air is warm enough to allow cardigans to slip from shoulders, barbecues come out and Aperol Spritzes get made. It’s the law of summer.
But not this year. This year I am drinking Hugos.
I drank my first Hugo in Lucerne (I know, get me). I was visiting my friend Gill and we’d spent the day cruising around the lake and looking at watches. After the first five shops I lost all sense of what was and wasn’t expensive anymore. £3,000 started to seem like a really good deal for a watch. To save me from myself, we went for a drink.
We ordered a round of Hugos because we found the name funny. Yes, I am one of those British tourists. It turns out that the name was picked at random by Roland Gruber, the barman who mixed the first Hugo in a cocktail bar in South Tyrol. He used lemon balm syrup, prosecco and tonic water to make an alternative to – you guessed it – Aperol Spritz.
Gruber was apparently mixing his Hugos in 2005. In 2011 his recipe appeared in a feature on summer spritzes and drinkers beyond the Italian Alps took an interest. For some reason it was especially popular in Germany, where the lemon balm syrup was swapped for elderflower. Now, wherever you find Germans and Italians drinking together in harmony, you find Hugos.
When I posted a picture of my Hugo on Instagram, a commentator said that a good way to perk them up was to switch the lime for a shot of gin. But why leave the lime out? In the spirit of more’s the merrier, I just added gin. Thus the Super Hugo was born.
Elderflower trees have finally sprung into bloom, so this bank holiday weekend is the perfect moment to a) pick some elderflowers and make elderflower syrup; and b) mix up some Super Hugos. Cin cin!
225g elderflower heads
225g caster sugar
First, dunk your elderflowers in a big bowl of water and swirl them round to wash off any bugs. Drain the elderflowers and gently rinse again.
Put the water and sugar in a large pan. Add the elderflowers. Cover. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 mins, then take it off the heat. Leave to cool down. Once it’s cold, strain it through a sieve into a sterilised jar. Store in the fridge. This keeps for a few weeks.
60ml elderflower syrup
60ml gin (I like Malfy Gin for this)
200ml chilled prosecco
50ml sparkling mineral water
A few slices of lime and mint sprigs
Add a handful of ice cubes to two wine glasses. Pour in the elderflower syrup and gin. Top up with the prosecco and sparkling water. Push a few slices of lime and mint sprigs into each glass. Give each drink a gentle stir to mix everything together and serve.