Thought to date back to the days of Napoleon (a noted bubbly enthusiast), sabering is the act of opening a Champagne bottle using a saber or sword. These days, the showy display mainly takes place at special events or ceremonial occasions—though a few hotels are now aiming to bring back the ritual.
The St. Regis brand’s relationship with sabering goes back to the early 1900s, when its founder, John Jacob Astor, liked to have a bottle sliced open each evening to mark the transition from day to night. St. Regis properties around the world still showcase the service during cocktail hour, but the St. Regis New York has taken it a step further by launching private saberage classes with the hotel’s food and beverage director. Priced at $350 for up to four people, the experience includes a 30-minute master class in the careful art, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and canapés.
If you’d rather leave the swordplay to someone else, drop by the hotel’s famed King Cole Bar at 6 pm, when the staff engages in their traditional salute to sundown. A similar ritual takes place at the Mountain Shadows desert resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., where the Sunset Champagne Toast & Sabering on the lawn—set against a backdrop of the changing colors across Camelback Mountain—is held each Friday evening to mark the start of the weekend. Over in Dublin, Ireland, the historic Shelbourne Hotel has launched a similar weekend-heralding sabering ritual at its clubby new residents-only Bar 1824 (debuted as part of the property’s multimillion-euro renovation and restoration). The bubbly cap to the week is held every Friday at 6:24 pm, or 18:24, a nod to the date of the hotel’s founding.