Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

Each evening at nearly 50 St. Regis Hotels and Resorts around the globe, guests gather to welcome nightfall with a ritual Champagne sabering, a St. Regis tradition that goes back to 1904, when John Jacob Astor IV founded the original St. Regis Hotel in New York City at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 55th Street.

Recently, St. Regis introduced a master class in the art of sabrage at its North American properties in Atlanta, Aspen, Bal Harbour, Deer Valley, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Houston, and Washington D.C., so guests can share the celebratory ritual at home or at celebrations with family and friends.

The private classes are led by an expertly trained St. Regis butler who instructs private groups to master the art of dramatically removing the bottle’s cork with a sword, a parlor trick that is sure to make you the life of your next party.

Each 30-minute session, which is open to guests and locals, covers the long history and technique of the ritual before allowing students to try their hands at sabering. Prices start at about $500 for a private class of up to four people, accompanied by canapés and other add-ons that vary from property to property.

The classes are a fun activity for bridal parties, corporate gatherings and groups of friends and families. And for those, who simply can’t wait to try sabering at home, Daniel Ritacco, director of food & beverage at The St. Regis New York, offers these pro tips:

  • Chill the bottle evenly. Colder temperatures lower the pressure and inhibit vibrations, which make the bottle more stable for sabering. To ensure the neck of the bottle is cold, place the bottle upside down in an ice bucket for approximately 20 minutes beforehand to chill evenly.
  • Ensure you have enough space and point the bottle away from onlookers before sabering.
  • Remove the foil around the cork completely and unwind and discard the wire cage surrounding the cork.
  • 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.
  • With your other hand, hold the saber flat against the bottle.
  • A blunt blade is preferable to a sharp blade which could nick the bottle.
  • Firmly slide the blade upward along the seam of the bottle, hitting the lip at a slight angle, and follow through.

Astor, who went down with the RMS Titanic in 1912, started the nightly sabrage tradition at his famous grande-dame hotel, taking inspiration from an apocryphal quote by Napoleon Bonaparte, who reportedly opened a bottle of bubbly with his saber and said, “Champagne: in victory, one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.” The comment is also attributed to Winston Churchill who is on record saying, “I could not live without Champagne. In victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it.”

“We are delighted to bring the art of sabrage front and center for both guests and visitors this summer at our hotels and resorts,” said George Fleck, vice president and global brand leader, for St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, in a news release. “There is no more glamorous way to celebrate a soiree, toast to a milestone or bond with friends than sabering a bottle of Champagne.”

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