The recipe for a jul party, embassy style

Conversation, food, and especially drink mix well at Ambassador Aas’s holiday event

two kransekaker topped with nisser on a decorated table for the Ambassador's Christmas party

Photo: Christine Foster Meloni
Christmas kransekaker topped with nisser made a festive centerpiece.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

The Ambassador’s annual Christmas party at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., is always a very special occasion, and this year was certainly no exception.

Storm Horncastle, the Embassy’s Public Relations Officer, greeted the guests warmly as we arrived at the Embassy. She immediately directed us to a table where we were served a warm cup of gløgg, the traditional Norwegian Christmas drink made of mulled wine, cloves, cinnamon, almonds, and raisins. It was very much appreciated on a cold evening in the nation’s capital.

We were then invited to ascend the staircase to the Ambassador’s residence, where the mood was joyful. Ambassador Kåre Aas was, as always, a most gracious host, mingling with his guests and greeting everyone with warmth and enthusiasm. He has a special knack for making guests feel at home.

The holiday decorations throughout the residence created a very festive air. The Christmas tree was beautiful with its colored spheres and heart basket ornaments. (For instructions on how to make the traditional Norwegian heart basket ornaments, go to

The major focus was the magnificent smørgåsbord in the dining room. The centerpiece was splendid with two kransekaker. Each cake looked like a small Christmas tree, decorated with miniature Norwegian flags, poinsettia flowers, and candy canes and topped with a little elf dressed in red.

As we waited for the buffet to be set up, guests were busy socializing and listening to jazz music played by the Tedd Baker Quartet. We also had the opportunity to sample some new drinks.

Horncastle introduced a special pink cocktail called “Sparkling Norwegian Christmas Gløgg” that she had created. It aroused considerable interest and was declared delicious. Guest Virginia Lezhnev warned, however, that you should drink it at home or only if you are not the designated driver for the night. It will definitely put a kick into your holiday!

Everyone seemed to refer to it as the Lingonberry Cocktail because lingonberry was one of the primary ingredients. The recipe is found below.

Sparkling Norwegian Christmas Gløgg
Created by Storm Horncastle (pictured)

Photo: Maxwell C. Schroder

1 oz. aquavit
1/2 oz. gløgg mix (no wine added)
3 tsps. simple syrup
1 tsp. lingonberry purée

Shake aquavit, gløgg mix, simple syrup, and lingonberry purée over ice.

Strain into glass and top off with Prosecco.


In a corner of the library, Tore G. Nybø, the general manager of Nøgne Ø, was offering samples of the brewery’s new beers. This brewery, located in Grimstad, is Norway’s leading and largest supplier of craft beer.

Guest Bill Greer sampled the Citra Pale Ale and remarked that he found it to be very refreshing with a strong lingering taste of hops. “It was very much better than the local weak beers I recently drank in Oslo and Kongsberg,” he said. “I would definitely order this in a restaurant.”

Other beers available included Julequad (a new Christmas beer), Special Holiday Ale, Winter Ale, Imperial Stout, and even two varieties of sake, Sparkling Sake and Junmai.

Soon the buffet was set up with a wide variety of delicious foods including various kinds of meat and fish (salmon, of course), pickled beets, pureed rutabagas, potato salad, and two kinds of Norwegian cheeses, Jarlsberg and geitost.

After the main course was finished, a scrumptious array of desserts appeared—creamed rice with strawberry sauce, cloudberry crème, krumkaker, and ginger cookies. The kransekaker were broken into small pieces and served.

Guests seemed reluctant to leave but they found a thoughtful surprise as they left. Each person received a Norwegian heart basket ornament with a small bar of Freia chocolate tucked inside and a heartfelt thank you for coming.

It was an evening to remember!

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 30, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Christine Foster Meloni

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.