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

An estimated 1,000 people attended the lavish party on Wednesday night.
The magnificent Swiss residence features several indoor and outdoor lounges. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
The magnificent Swiss residence features several indoor and outdoor lounges. Photograph by Jeff Martin.

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.

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