How to Saber a Champagne Bottle on New Year's Eve Like a Boss (But Remember, Safety First)

What's New Year's Eve without champagne, right? You could be drinking wine or beer or cocktails all night, but you'll still gladly guzzle it down when the ball drops at midnight. It just wouldn't feel right ringing in the New Year without at least a sip of even the cheapest bubbly. But since champagne is pretty common at NYE parties, maybe you're looking for a way to set your champagne popping apart. Try sabering your champagne bottle.

The method of Sabrage, or sabering, was allegedly first used by soldiers under Napoleon's command. When Napoleon waged war through the Champagne region of France, it was said that impatient officers, stoked on a victory or saddened by defeat, would use their military sabers to swipe the corks off the bottles rather than going through the whole process of twisting and turning. These days, sabering is usually seen at special occasions and done by seasoned professionals — considering what a champagne saber looks like, that's probably a good idea.

Don't think you have to track down the katana your kid brother bought in Little Tokyo for $20, however, to impress your friends on New Year's Eve. You can get the same effect of sabering with two common household items — and it's actually pretty easy. Let's get this party started!

But first: While less dangerous than using an actual sword, opening a champagne bottle the following ways are still not entirely safe. Make sure you follow all the instructions, and maybe even try it one or two times with some cheap bottles before your guests arrive. Also, I highly recommend that you be sober when attempting this.

How to Saber a Champagne Bottle With a Kitchen Knife

BistroBordeaux on YouTube

This method is not for those afraid of using knives to do their dirty work.

What You'll Need

  • Chilled bottle of champagne (preferably French because the glass is thicker)
  • Ice bucket and ice
  • Towel or cloth napkin
  • Large kitchen knife

Step 1: Chilling the Bottle

Place the bottle upside down in the ice bucket so that the neck of the bottle will get the coldest. Make sure not to shake the bottle. Culinary expert Alton Brown advises adding salt to the ice to help lower the freezing point. You'll always want to use a chilled bottle when sabering because it also lowers the pressure inside the bottle and can keep the bottle from exploding later on. Leave the bottle in the ice for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Preparing the Bottle

Remove the bottle from the ice and use the towel or napkin to wipe off any moisture on the outside. You don't want your hands to slip, after all. Peel away the foil wrapper from the top of the bottle to expose the cork. Pro tip: Some people suggest removing the cage, but you can also loosen it and move it up a bit, so that it's just under the second rung of the bottle lip. This will help keep the glass and cork together after you pop it off. You may want to practice it both ways.

Step 3: Find the Crease

Bottles have two creases from where the glass is fused together. This is where the bottle's integrity is weakest, and therefore where its connection to the bottle lip is weakest.

Step 4: Get The Big Knife

Select a large kitchen knife with a firm handle. You'll be using the blunt end of the knife, so don't worry about its sharpness (but still be careful).

Step 5: Safety First

Since the cork and a bit of glass is about to pop off this sucker with significant force, choose somewhere you won't break anything or anybody. Back yards, balconies, or large kitchens should be fine, and make sure people stand behind or to the side of you to avoid getting hit.

Step 6: Get Things Poppin'

Hold the bottle firmly with your non-dominant hand and parallel to the floor. Place your thumb in the indented part of the bottle, and wrap your fingers around the back of the bottle for a firm grip. This way, your fingers will be out of the way of the knife. Hold the knife with your dominant hand, and run it along the crease for some practice slides. In one fluid motion, slide the knife along the crease up to the bottle's lip. The cork and lip should pop off!

Step 7: Spill and Pour

Since you just basically broke the top of the bottle, let some champagne spill out to wash away any tiny bits of glass. You can use the same towel to mop up later. Hold the bottle up to a light to check for any stray pieces of glass before serving. Once everything is good, you can pour (much to the delight of your guests, I'm sure).

How to Saber a Champagne Bottle With a Wine Glass

Paul Frutiger on YouTube

If you're not too keen on using a knife, you can also use a wine glass to the same effect.

What You'll Need

  • Chilled bottle of champagne (again, preferably French because the glass is thicker)
  • Ice bucket and ice
  • Towel or cloth napkin
  • Wine glass (make sure it's one with a thick base)

(Follow steps 1-3 from the instructions above)

Step 4: Get a Glass

You'll want to use a wine glass with a thick base for this. That way, the glass won't break on impact with the lip of the champagne bottle. A glass similar to this one should work well.

Step 5: Safety First

Again, choose a safe place where no one is in danger of being hit by the cork.

Step 6: Get Things Poppin'

Hold the bottle firmly with your non-dominant hand and parallel to the floor. Place your thumb in the indented part of the bottle, and wrap your fingers around the back of the bottle for a firm grip. Hold the wine glass by the bowl (the part you put the wine into) with your dominant hand, and run it along the crease a few times using one edge of the base. In one fluid motion, slide the glass along the crease up to the bottle's lip. The cork and lip should pop off!

Step 7: Spill and Pour

As with using a knife, let some champagne spill out to wash away any tiny bits of glass. You can use the same towel to mop up later. Then? Serve! Cheers!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Images: Giphy (3)