European way of life

The Hugo : a trendy cocktail from the Alps

Fed up with the eternal mojitos or caïpirinhas? Good news: Latin America is not the only place where people know how to make sunny cocktails. Goodbye Cuba or Brazil: welcome to the South Tyrol!

It was there, in the Trentino-Alto Adige, that the Hugo was born in 2005; a summer cocktail that quenches your Central Europe thirst, from Austria to Bavaria, including Switzerland.

Vue de Naturno, Trentin- Haut Adige, Italie, photo de PhilippSteiner (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Naturno, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, photo by PhilippSteiner (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Allegedly, it was invented by a bartender from Naturno, little Italian locality of 5 000 residents in the province of Bolzano. At the San Zeno, a local cocktail bar, Roland Gruber wanted to offer his customers a variant of the unmovable Spritz. In 2011, his recipe appears on the website of Mixology, a magazine devoted to the « Barkultur », in an article about several variants of the Spritz in the South of the triangle Austria, Germany and Switzerland (yes, that’s quite specific). Prosecco, tonic water, lemon balm sirup, lemon again and mint. A light cocktail usually served in wine glass (Bordeaux glass or classic white wine glass).

Hugos classiques, photo de http://www.ristoramagazine.ch/2014/07/quali-cocktail-beviamo-destate-eccone-5-da-non-perdere/ (en italien)

Hugos with elderflower, photo by http://www.ristoramagazine.ch/2014/07/quali-cocktail-beviamo-destate-eccone-5-da-non-perdere/ (in Italian)

Then, everything went very fast. The Hugo crosses of the Alps. It was seen in Innsbrück in 2009, next in the German trendy bars; people adapt it: in Munich, white wine is used instead of Prosecco, elderflower sirup instead of lemon balm sirup.

And then comes the consecration: The German weekly magazine Der Spiegel devotes an entire article to the Hugo in September 2012. The Wilms House, an import enterprise based in Hesse, which particularly imports the French brand Teisseire, saw its sales of elderflower sirup increase by 45 % in 2010.

It’s an actual phenomenon: in 2011, up to 400 Hugos are served by night in some establishments in Munich like in the well named H’ugo’s Pizza Bar Lounge. The Hugo is not demanding. It’s a sophisticated association of simple ingredients: some disappointed people wanted to make it more complicated by adding champagne. But it’s a cocktail for lazy amateurs, perfectly reproducible at home. That’s what makes it so successful.

Why « Hugo »? « Because it’s simpler than Otto » answers Roland Bruger, « AK » – his bartender name. Of course.

Tel Aviv Beach, Donaukanal, Vienne, Autriche © Tel Aviv Beach

Tel Aviv Beach, Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria © Tel Aviv Beach

My first Hugo was at the Tel Aviv Beach in Vienna, Danubefront, this summer. Almost ten years old and the Hugo hasn’t aged a day. It’s still the star of trendy parties in Central Europe. However, I still haven’t seen it in France!

Discover the original recipe of the Hugo by AK on the Mixology magazine website and enjoy the last moments of the Indian summer by experimenting with this simple cocktail from the Alps! A « virgin Hugo » – without alcohol – will easily replace a classic lemonade…

The star has even its Facebook page: « Ein Sommerdrink erobert die Welt»!

*« A summer drink conquers the world » !

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