Enjoying champagne isn’t just about the taste, the classic art of sabrage – slicing the top of a bottle of champs using a sword – celebrates a tradition that dates back to Napoleonic times. And now, you too can witness this lavish drinking experience at our centrally located hotels, The Milestone Hotel and Montague on the Gardens.
Firmly rooted in French history, it’s said sabrage started when the legendary Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, better known as Veuve Clicquot, dolled out free champagne to Napoleon’s soldiers to be consumed after battle – either in celebration or commiseration. One savvy soldier came up with the idea of using his sword to open the bottle in one fell swoop whilst riding – and so the art of sabrage was born!
Conquering the technique takes lots of patience and practice, but nothing beats watching the experts create this sensational spectacle, and then quaffing down a glass, or two. For an extra special day out opt for a sumptuous three-course meal at Cheneston’s restaurant in the Milestone Hotel, or treat a loved one to a lavish afternoon tea at the Montague on the Gardens, and observe the connoisseurs perform in all their glory.
Here are a few insiders’ tips on how the experts pull off this technical feat so effortlessly:
1. Ensuring the bottle is the right temperature.
Too chilled and the glass bottle will shatter on impact. Too hot jagged glass shards could end up contaminating your tipple.
2. It’s all about getting the right angle.
A 30-degree tilt is ideal.
3. Locate the seam of the bottle first.
Finding the seam of the bottle —the join of the glass on either side — will help get the cleanest break.
4. Be firm but not too forceful.
Control is the name of the game and a steady wrist is a must. Too much brute force will not bode well, and after all you’re not swinging an axe!
Sabrage is a delicate yet tricky skill to get right, so forget trying this yourself and take pleasure in seeing the professionals at work whilst enjoying a few glasses of champagne with us instead.
Header image Björn Höglund/Hemera/Thinkstock