Washington Celebrates Switzerland at the 11th Annual Soiree Suisse (Photos)

An estimated 1,000 people attended the lavish party on Wednesday night.

By: Travis M. Andrews, Mallory Yu

The Swiss ambassador and his wife threw a party on behalf of all things Swiss, and approximately 1,000 people showed up to enjoy cigars, absinthe, chocolate, coffee, and almost perfect weather. The 11th annual Soiree Suisse was Wednesday night at the compound off Woodley Road. Ambassador Manuel Sager stated the obvious—“It’s a great night for a party outside”—as he welcomed guests.

Among the attendees were Hansjörg Wyss, the 2012 Tell Award Recipient, and Thabo Sefolosha, the Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard and small forward. In addition, folks from every stripe were in attendance, such as Dr. V. Craig Jordan, the scientific director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University, and John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and playwright.

The main focus of the evening was to celebrate both the strength of US-Swiss relations and the finest in Swiss food, drink, and culture. “We want to thank you all for your cooperation helping us meet our mission,” said Ambassador Sager in a speech at the beginning of the evening. He invited Wyss and then Sefalosha to the stage to honor them for their accomplishments as Swiss citizens. Of Sefalosha, he joked, “He outgrew Switzerland, which was sad for us but good for you.”

The dinner buffet featured veal-and-mushroom tarts, the Swiss staple raclette (creamy melted cheese poured over potatoes), and free-flowing drinks; afterward came a dessert table stacked high with chocolates and creamy mousse.

Not every item was Swiss in origin (case in point: the Bulleit Bourbon table), but no one, least of all bourbon drinkers, was complaining.

Throughout the evening, Sager walked through the crowd, dispensing handshakes and smiles in equal measure, stopping to speak with as many of his “1,200 closest friends” as he could. Sefalosha stayed until the end of the party, talking and joking with those around him. As the evening wound down, guests puffed on Davidoff cigars, sipped Nespresso and Kübler absinthe, and wandered through the indoor and outdoor lounges, admiring large canvases printed with photos of some of Switzerland’s beautiful sceneries.

Sager said the 53 corporate sponsors of the party, including Toblerone and Kriss, contributed 83 percent of its budget, “which ought to make the Swiss people happy that we’re not using their taxes to pay for this party. Yes, we do pay taxes in Switzerland.”

Guests mingle as they waited for the evening to start. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
Raclette—a traditional dish from the French part of Switzerland—was just one of many delicious foods served throughout the night. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
Two guests study paintings of generals Robert E. Lee and William T. Sherman done by Swiss painter Frank Buchser. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
Ambassador Sager takes a moment to greet two of his guests. Photograph by Jeff Martin.