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Sketch by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli @ http://jacquelinehudon.blogspot.com

“Whatever you do, don’t bring up politics or religion.”

At some point, we’ve all received this pearl of cocktail party small-talk wisdom.  And generally speaking, it’s a pretty smart way to avoid starting a conversation with your foot in your mouth.

But what happens when the party is being put on by The Institute on Religion and Public Policy?   Do weather, sports and pop culture become the taboo topics?  This Wednesday you can find out for yourself.

The Institute, which advocates on behalf of freedom of religion around the world, is putting on “Spirits of the World,” a cocktail party blending hard alcohol and soft diplomacy, at the Embassy of Ethiopia from 7 to 10 PM on the 10th.

Details on this public event, including participating countries and how to respond, after the jump.

The invitation describes Spirits of the World as “an informal, cultural event that invites local diplomatic representatives to share and exchange distinct aspects of their respective traditions.”  Translation: Let’s get together and have a good time over a few of your country’s favorite cocktails.

No relation to Wednesday's event, but sounds like a good read all the same.

No relation to Wednesday's event, but sounds like a good read all the same.

Eager to find out which countries would be sharing their ‘respective traditions,’ I called Sarah Bishop at the Insitute and asked.  She was nice enough to send a list of the participating countries to date:

Bahamas
Chile
Iran
Israel
Jamaica
Moldova
Morocco
Philippines
Syria
Venezuela

Some of them are standard enough (Jamaican rum is hardly a rarity, and Chilean red wines are certainly coming into their own), but I’m really curious to see what Moldova brings to the party.  Word has it they are known throughout Eastern Europe for their wines and vodkas.  Even more intriguing: Iran, a country where alcohol is prohibited.  Will they bring doogh, their salted yogurt drink, or maybe just some grape juice from Shiraz?

The party is taking place at the Embassy of Ethiopia, which is located at 3506 International Drive, NW.   It’s actually somewhat Metro accessible: take the Red Line to the Van Ness/UDC stop, walk to the corner of Connecticut and Van Ness, and head west on Van Ness.  International Drive will be on your left as you walk down the street – do yourself a favor and pass the first sign for International Drive and turn left at the second (the street loops around).  The Embassy will be the third building on your right.  And while you’re in the neighborhood, stop off at “La Cheeserie” in the nearby Calvert-Woodley Liquors – it’s one of the best cheese counters in the city.

This should be a great event for anyone interested in international relations, religious freedom, beverages from around the world, or any combination of the three.  It’s open to the public and free of charge, but you need to respond to Bishop in advance to confirm your attendance.  You can reach her via email at bishop@religionandpolicy.org, or you can call her at (202) 835-8760.

See you there!