Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year's Eve Sabrage

Something I've always wanted to try, but never had the opportunity, is the sabring of a bottle of the bubbly - an ancient technique known as sabrage (from the French sabrage).  Having just inherited my grandfather's ceremonial rapier, New Year's Eve 2010 presented a golden opportunity to hone this long-desired skill.  Brief oral instructions having been given only days before (by those who had mastered the art with a hatchet around the campfire, no less - a machete would work equally well they allowed), I was determined to give it a try - on the cheap stuff first, of course.  Horrified looks all around (apparently the rest of the fam hadn't heard of sabrage before and were more worried about broken glass and the possibility of spilt champagne - not to mention blood loss - than my honour as Keeper of the Blade), I assumed the stance and sliced away.  Now a rapier is meant for thrusting, ie. it has a sharp point, whereas a sabre has a sharp cutting edge, for hacking and slicing - a nuance I was temporarily unaware of due to Sr. Sambuca, an old friend.  Needless to say, the dull edge of said rapier (otherwise an exceedingly handsome specimen) hindered my progress, but eventually (as you can see) I triumphed.  Very little spillage, no shattered bottle, and no blood loss (that's the cork, still in the glass collar, being held up by White Sleeve).  So here's the deal: remove the wire holding the cork, hold the bottle with the seam up, and slide the sabre down the neck forcefully towards the collar of the bottle.  Voila!  (From the French, voila.)  Fair maidens suitably impressed (such as my daughter, pictured), you can pour the contents and quaff, er, sip, secure in the knowledge that you have joined an elite group of sommeliers.  (Since this momentous achievement I 've been told that it's even easier if you score the collar before you sabre it.  Thanks, Heinz.)  I now rent myself out for parties wherever champagne needs to be sabred, but use a machete for the actual job and bring the rapier just for pictures afterward.  And, of course, the always necessary admonishment: don't try this at home, you didn't hear it here, depictions herein are of trained professionals, etc.  Enjoy!