I recently returned from travels to Italy where I pedaled the Dolomites with ExperiencePlus!. I had dreamed of pedaling these limestone mountains for more than two decades. Little did I know how much I would learn about the history of the region, let alone be introduced to a fantastically refreshing adult beverage that falls into the spritz category of aperitifs.
The concept of the “spritz,” which means ‘splash’ in German, originated in this northern part of Italy that was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1815-1919. The influence and presence of of Tyrolean food, language, traditions and culture are still strong as you travel through the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto-Adige/Südtirol, the region in which we spend the majority of our time pedaling on Cycling Italy’s Dolomites Plus! the Sella Ronda.
According to Tourissimo, Austrian soldiers found Italian wines a bit strong and so began adding a splash of water to make for easier drinking. The still water was eventually substituted for sparkling water, and then prosecco. The Hugo is a variation of spritz that was originally crafted in 2005 by barman Roland Gruber in the south Tyrolean community of Naturns, just northwest of Bolzano. Simple to make, the Hugo takes its tasting notes from Elderflower syrup.
Thanks to tour leader Attila Dalla Palma for introducing us to this refreshing summer beverage. I enjoyed my first Hugo on a terrace overlooking the western end of the Schlern Arm massif in Fié allo Sciliar/Völs am Schlern and fell in love with its bright, clean, and balanced taste. The recipe that follows comes from liveeatlearn.com.
Ingredients (per serving):
- 1 mint sprig
- A few slices of lime
- 1 tablespoon elderflower syrup (more or less depending on how sweet you like your drink)
- 1 cup Prosecco
- 1 – 2 tablespoons Sparkling/Seltzer Water – plain. Don’t use club soda.
- 1/2 cup ice cubes
Muddle: Briefly muddle the mint in your glass, or leaves between your palms to draw out the flavor, then place in glass. You can either remove the leaves from the stem or keep them on. Add lime slices.
Assemble: Pour in elderflower syrup, Prosecco, and a splash of sparkling water.
Serve: Stir to combine and serve immediately on ice.