There aren't many acts more satisfying that sabering a bottle of champagne.
The art of sabrage stretches back more than 200 years and was made famous by Napoleon Bonaparte, who opened champagne with his saber and notably said, “Champagne: in victory, one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.”
For St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, the ritual began in 1904 when hotel founder John Jacob Astor IV would have a bottle sabered on property each evening to celebrate the transition from day to night. Today, St. Regis properties around the world continue the tradition with a nightly sabering event.
And now, St. Regis is launching private sabrage masterclasses at all properties across North America, including those in Atlanta, Aspen, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington, D.C. Guests and locals alike can learn the trick from an expertly trained St. Regis Butler.
The classes are available for couples and small groups upon request, so make that request. The experience will include a 30-minute masterclass, a bottle of champagne and canapés, plus special add-ons that vary property to property.
In the class, you'll learn everything you need to know. But if you'd like to take sword to bottle at home, follow these tips from Daniel Ritacco. He's the Director of Food & Beverage at The St. Regis New York and oversees the property's King Cole Bar, where he's popped a lot of corks.
7 Tips to Sabering Success
1. Chill the bottle evenly. Colder temperatures lower the pressure and inhibit vibrations, which makes the bottle more stable for sabering. To ensure the neck of the bottle is nice and cold, place the bottle upside down in an ice bucket for approximately 20 minutes beforehand to chill evenly.
2. Do a safety check to ensure you have enough space, and be sure to point the bottle away from onlookers before sabering.
3. Carefully remove the foil around the cork completely. Unwind and discard the wire cage.
4. Find one of the two vertical seams running up the bottle. Hold the base firmly in one hand, pointing it away from you with the seam tilted upward at approximately a 30-degree angle.
5. With your other hand, hold the saber flat against the bottle. A blunt blade is preferred to a sharp blade which could nick the bottle.
6. Firmly slide the blade upward along the seam of the bottle, hitting the lip at a slight angle and remember to follow through.
7. The cork and surrounding glass will pop off intact and the champagne will be ready to serve.