Master the art of sabrage at the St Regis

Because it’s more fun than the pop of a cork

The sabrage ceremony upholds the custom of using a sword to uncork a champagne bottle
The sabrage ceremony upholds the custom of using a sword to uncork a champagne bottle

“Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it,” Napoleon Bonaparte once declared. This certainly holds true on a freezing February night in New York, where those in need of a little post-Christmas sparkle – not to mention champagne and canapés – should head to the Sabrage Master Classes at the St Regis in the intimate Vault space of the iconic Hotel Beaux Arts, located near the entrance to its historic King Cole Bar.

The nightly sword ceremony is part of a tradition that dates back to the battles of Napoleon
The nightly sword ceremony is part of a tradition that dates back to the battles of Napoleon

In keeping with founder John Jacob Astor IV’s long-standing tradition of a nightly sabrage ceremony – which upholds the custom of using a sword to uncork a champagne bottle, dating back to the battles of Napoleon – up to four guests per evening can now partake in the elaborate celebration ($350 for 30 minutes) under the expert guidance of director of food & beverage Will Rentschler. Classes will take place from Thursday February 1 through the winter months.

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Those in attendance will be taken through the steps for “proper” champagne enjoyment, beginning with a perfectly chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot. After the foil and wire cage – aka the muselet – are removed, the bottleneck is pointed upward, and with a firm swipe of the sword, voilà! The champagne is uncorked and ready to pour.

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Rentschler’s deft skills with his silver sword will ensure not a drop of the free-flowing bubbly goes to waste, and it will be served with signature nibbles including bite-size hors d’oeuvres of filet mignon, tuna tartare and the hotel’s legendary crab cakes.

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