On a gloriously sunny evening we head to the United States Embassy where the great and the very good are gathering to celebrate the removal of UK tariffs on American whiskeys. Kathy Yao, Agricultural Attaché at the US Embassy, welcomes us all to the party. Joe Pennington, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, reminds everyone, “The US has no stronger or closer friend than the UK. Transatlantic zero to zero tariff trade is flowing again! It’s time to enjoy some Manhattans and Whiskey Sours!”
Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, confirms, “This evening is a celebration of the strengthening of the US and UK Governments’ special relationship. Toasts not tariffs!” Next, Tom Sallis, Director of Global Partnerships at the Scottish Whisky Association, also welcomes the return of tariff-free trade for whiskies on both sides of the Atlantic. There are 17 American whiskeys to sample from Golden Moon to Wild Turkey accompanied by canapés galore: asparagus and cheddar; mushroom and parmesan; salmon, mint, ginger and coriander; and tuna and soy sauce.
Landscape! Architecture! Art! The American Embassy famously moved south of the Thames in the second decade of this century. It’s a contemporary fort so naturally is protected a moat. Competition winning Philadelphian firm Kieran Timberlake designed the 12 storey glazed cube enveloped on two sides by a transparent film of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a form of plastic, to minimise solar gain. This is after all, the sunny southeast.
“Our challenge for the embassy was to encompass the values of transparency, openness and equality,” explain the architects, “drawing on the best of American architecture, engineering, technology, art and culture.” It’s the largest American embassy in Europe with 800 staff and around 1,000 daily visitors. As for that moat? Well, it’s actually a pond designed by landscape architects Olin and forms part of the site’s stormwater strategy.
A vast artwork dominates one wall of the double height atrium. ‘We The People’ is a 2017 site specific painting by Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford. The painting is made up of 32 square panels, each one nine metres square. It depicts fragments of the United States Constitution, illuminated this evening by the setting sun. Right now, we the people continue to party.