A New Summer Cocktail Called Hugo

Updated on August 21, 2012
The now world-famous Hugo.  I am referring to the drink, not the guy in the background!
The now world-famous Hugo. I am referring to the drink, not the guy in the background! | Source

It has to be 5 o'clock somewhere, no? Who cares, it is time for a Hugo.

But wait, what's a Hugo?

When my friends travel back to Europe, I always like to find out what the latest trends are. I think it is interesting to hear about what people are wearing, what movies are in the theaters, what new beauty products have hit the market, and so forth. This time, however, when my friend returned back to the US after spending the summer in Germany, the scoop was of a different nature. The new must-have thing of the season is a summer cocktail called a Hugo.

Ironically, just days later, my 19-year-old nephew arrived from Germany for a visit and we got into a conversation about his part-time job as, what else but, a bartender. (Food for thought for another hub about the national differences surrounding teens and alcohol consumption, but I digress). Generally a pretty understated fellow, his eyes opened wide when he told me that I've got to try this new drink he's been mixing up called a Hugo. Enough said: between my two credible I knew I wanted to get my hands on the recipe and the ingredients.

The Origin of the Hugo

The word Hugo is a derivative of the old high German word 'hugu', meaning 'mind', 'heart', and 'spirit'. The cocktail is believed to have been originated in Tyrol, the western part of Austria famous worldwide for its ski resorts. It is refreshing and light, similar in look and taste to the already popular mojito.

A few tips I learned from the pros:

  • Using cold ingredients is better than using ice to chill the drink; this helps maintain its effervescence
  • If ice is the only option, stick to cubes; never use crushed ice
  • A Hugo is most definitely a product of its ingredients; high quality prosecco yields a better tasting cocktail
  • If you are running short on mint, you can use less by crushing the leaves more intently to release the oils


  • 1 shot elderberry syrup (or St. Germain liqueur)
  • 2-3 slices lime
  • 2 pieces mint
  • 5 ounces prosecco
  • 3 ounces mineral water
  • ice

What are Elderberries?

Elderberries are typically black, blue-black or red berries which grow on an elder tree or shrub. They are loosely considered members of the honeysuckle family, with a spicy-grapey kind of flavor. In the world of homeopathy, they are widely recognized for their richness in Vitamin C and their ability to prevent colds and flus. Elderberries are known to boost the immune system thereby promoting overall wellness.

Elderberry syrup is widely available in Europe. In the US, it can only be found in specialty or health food stores. One exception is IKEA, where I am told it is available in the market section.

Don't have easy access to either? For the purpose of making a Hugo, consider using a wonderful substitute called St. Germain. Only caveat is that it is a liqueur, thereby upping the overall alcohol content of the drink.

What is the Difference Between Prosecco and Champagne?

Both prosecco and champagne are wines that are produced in Europe, are effervescent and are generally rather dry than sweet in flavor. Each can be found under many brands and labels depending on the time and the process by which they have been aged. Price tags vary accordingly.

Champagne is only truly champagne if produced in the Champagne region of France. Everything else, even if produced similarly, it technically called a sparkling wine.

Prosecco, on the other hand, is produced in Italy. Like champagne, real prosecco must come from a specific region, namely the Veneto region. Prosecco also can't be authentically reproduced elsewhere in the world, even if the same grapes and process are employed.


  1. Place mint leaves in a wine glass. Use muddler and mash mint lightly.
  2. Add limes and ice cubes.
  3. Add prosecco, mineral water and elderberry syrup.
  4. Stir and enjoy!

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Ready in: 5 min
Yields: 1 Hugo summer cocktail
4.3 stars from 3 ratings of Hugo Summer Cocktail


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      Stripey 21 months ago

      A small correction, a Hugo is made with elderflower syrup not elderberry. The berries are small and dark and sometimes get made into elderberry wine (which is dark red) but the syrup popular in Europe (and available from IKEA) is made from the flowers of the same plant and is pretty much colourless.