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Aquavit Cocktails and a Visit to The Danish Table

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Last Updated on June 9, 2023 by Leah Hall

We made a trip to Elk Horn, Iowa to go to the Danish Table, and got to try some aquavit cocktails, then made our own!


Since this was posted, the Danish Table has closed permanently.

Elk Horn, Iowa is one of the most Danish places in America. There are Danish festivals celebrating Danish food and culture, and the Museum of Danish America, which we toured! We were invited to come to The Danish Table by Mari, the owner, and decided to spend a day in Iowa with the boys with us! Plus, we were promised aquavit cocktails, so win-win!

Yellow building

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There are also places to get a taste of Danish food: The Danish Table: Hygge Kitchen. The Danish Table is a lovely restaurant right next to the Danish Windmill in Elk Horn! Upon entering you are transported to Denmark and Scandinavia, with the feeling of Hygge all around.

Minimalist Danish restaurant inside

What is a Hygge lifestyle?

Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), this Danish idea cannot be translated to one single word but is a feeling of cozy contentment and well being by enjoying the simple things in life. In doing my research about hygge I noticed that it tends to focus on wintertime.
black and white napkins on table at minimalist restaurant
The cold and dark days of winter are the perfect time to get cozy with candles, throw blankets, hot chocolate, layers of clothing, a good book or binge watching that Netflix show. Lots of hygge foods: pancakes and soup, are alllll winter!

But, it seems that there is also hygge in the summer. Warm weather hygge is outdoor: picnics, cookouts, bonfires. Summertime hygge is about friends and being outdoors while you can! I don’t know about you, but I am down with all of these things, especially right now as I am staring at 6 inches of snow on the ground!

We definitely felt the hygge in The Danish Table because of the following:

Minimalist Scandinavian restaurant decor, wood, black and white

The Decor

You will recognize The Danish Table’s aesthetic as Scandinavian: natural wood, white walls, slight minimalism, but modern, eclectic and rustic touches with colorful throw pillows, check napkins and pops of color.  The host stand is even a repurposed bicycle, for the love of biking in Denmark!


We loved the bright and light interior on a snowy winter Sunday we were there, and felt the hygge!

Pork Loin meal in white bowl

Danish Food

There’s a Danish kitchen portion of the menu that includes entrees such as frikadeller, which are Danish meatballs, and I had them, and they were delish. Also, stegt flaesk, fried pork belly, which Jay had, and was also delicious topped with carrot and pea gravy. They serve these dishes with a side of warm red cabbage and cucumber salad, made in house.

There are touches of Denmark in all parts of the menu. But, there is the American Kitchen page for those who don’t want to get to scary! These include all kinds of sandwiches: chicken, burgers, pork tenderloin and a French dip.


For those who want to be braver, there are starters with herring, a Danish meat and cheese board, and a Smorgasbord with open-faced sandwiches. For those going for breakfast or brunch, there are the typical American flavors with pancakes and biscuits and gravy. But, again, for those who want to cross over you can get the medisterpolse and aebleskiver.

Wrap sandwich and chips in a basket

The medisterpolse are Danish sausages with boiled potatoes and gravy, and then Danish pancakes, the aebleskiver. Oh, the aebleskiver.

Doughnuts in cone of paper

We had the aebleskiver (like a pancake and a doughnut hole all in one) for dessert. The aebleskiver are served with powdered sugar, plus sugar, jam, and butter on the side. Yeah. Little bits of heaven. Needless to say, the boys gobbled them up!

DIY Aquavit kits on shelf

Aquavit or Akavit

A neutral spirit distilled from grain or potato, aquavit is commonly flavored with caraway as the main flavor. Styles of aquavit vary and can other spices too, such as dill, fennel, coriander, citrus and anise.  The Danish Table isn’t making true aquavit, but they do produce a pretty tasty approximation by infusing vodka with their own blend of spices.

A shot of aquavit pairs particularly well with any of the Danish food. They also use aquavit in some of their house cocktails, a Danish Mule, Bloody Dane, and the New Norre.

DIY Aquavit kit

We got to sit down with Mari Nielsen Harries, the owner, and talk about their opening last year, as well as their developing recipes that are Danish in nature, but appealing to Iowans. Mari also owns another restaurant in Minnesota, and felt called to open The Danish Table in Elkhorn in 2019.

Vodka poured into aquavit cocktail bottle

We talked about the cocktails and sipped their regular and dill aquavit, and how they developed their flavor profile for their own kit, which they sell at their restaurant. Mari and her staff were so welcoming and warm, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Vodka being poured into DIY aquavit kit

Elk Horn, Iowa

Elk Horn, Iowa is a short drive from Omaha, and door to door from Elk Horn to our house, was 70 minutes. And, that was even in a snow storm on the way home. So, very doable for a day date, or a great winter evening to go feel the hygge that encompasses The Danish Table.

Cocktail being poured into glass

Aquavit Cocktail

Of course, the lovely Mari gave us a make our own aquavit kit, (and an aquavit candle!) so we had to of course make an aquavit cocktail. I mean, that’s what we do, duh! And in playing with the flavors, we ended up pairing the caraway and anise flavors in their DIY kit with some pear brandy and Lillet Blanc.

Aquavit Cocktails being poured into glass

The wine based apertifs stood up really well to the flavorful aquavit. The gave a slight sweetness, but added lightness and freshness too.

Cocktail in tall glass with lemon peel and lemon behind

As the aquavit stood up to those flavors so well, and it was like late winter/early spring in a glass. Almost like when the snow is melting. We added in some grapefruit Oleo Saccharum, and a few drops of sassafras bitters. Regular aromatic bitters would work too!

Cocktail in glass, lemon peel, lemon behind

We hope you try this cocktail, as well as make a trip to Elk Horn, Iowa and The Danish Table, you won’t regret it!

Aquavit cocktails in glass with lemon peel, lemon behind

Plus, it’s sooooo Instagrammable, you will be posting all over the place – check these pictures!

Cocktail glass with lemon peelCocktail glass with lemon peel




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Cocktail in glass, lemon peel, lemon behind
Yield: 1

Aquavit Cocktails

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

These aquavit cocktails are so full of flavor wtih aquavit, pear brandy, lillet and oleo saccharum. Topped with sassafras bitters, this is a great tasty one.


  • 1.50 ounces aquavit
  • .50 ounce pear brandy
  • 1 ounce Lillet
  • .25 ounce Oleo Saccharum
  • 2 drops sassafras bitters


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir to chill.
  3. Strain into glass.
  4. Garnish with lemon peel.
  5. Cheers!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 5mgCarbohydrates: 6.4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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