How to sabre Champagne – and become a ‘grand commandeur’

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An exclusive society known as the order of the golden sabre, or Confrerie du Sabre d’Or, demonstrated its Champagne sabring skills on bottles of Perrier-Jouët at Smith & Wollensky in London...

Image: Sabre Champagne
Image: Sabre Champagne

The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or is the elite club for Champagne sabring.

It was inspired by French cavalry officers, who would simply pick up their Champagne and sabre off the top, rather than opening the cage and foil.

How to rise through the ranks

‘We have, like most military organisations, ranks,’ said Nathan Evans, a Grand Commandeur of the Confrérie.

‘If you’ve never sabraged before, then you will become a sabreur.’

After that, you move up through the bottle sizes.

‘If you sabrage a magnum, you become a chevalier. And then after chevalier, if you sabrage a jeroboam, you become an officier. And after that, if you sabrage a rehoboam – six bottles – you become a commandeur.’

Then comes the ultimate test of swordsmanship.

‘Eventually, you sabrage a methuselah,’ said Evans. ‘Obviously these bottles get bigger and bigger, and you can’t support the weight with your hands, so we move to tripod stands to sabrage the larger bottles.’

‘When you get to sabrage a methuselah, the only thing you can do is stand it upright. Someone supports the bottle and you sabrage up.’

Evans is one of only four Grand Commandeurs in the UK, meaning he has sabred a methuselah.


Sabring at home

This can ‘bring some drama’ to a party, said Evans. But, make that drama in a good way by following strict safety guidelines.

He recommended lessons to reach at least sabreur level before trying this at home.

Image: Nathan Evans sabres a bottle of Champagne
Image: Nathan Evans sabres a bottle of Champagne

How to sabre Champagne

1. Remove all foil and the cage from the bottle, hold in your weaker hand and tilt it at 45 degrees away from you.

2. Ensure you’re using a good quality bottle, so there’s less risk of it shattering, and make sure it is very cold.

3. Find where the two seams of the bottle meet, and this is the weakest part – and where you’re aiming to hit with your sabre.

4. Run the sabre up and down the seam, weakening the glass further.

5. Tilt the bottle so that it’s angled at 45 degrees and facing away from you.

6. Then, it’s time for the final blow. The action comes from your shoulder and elbow, so keep your elbow high and your wrist firm. You don’t need too much force, but just to hit the right spot in one clean motion.

Safety

‘It is vital no one is in the line of fire, because broken glass can often ricochet back off a hard surface towards spectators or the sabreur,’ said Evans.

The sabre is normally very blunt, and it is the weight of it that cuts through the glass.

Some guides suggest using a heavy kitchen knife.

But Evans said enthusiasts could purchase their own sabre through the Confrerie.

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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