The Art of Sabrage

The Art of Sabrage

Special occasions deserve spectacular moments that leave your guests in awe. Opening a bottle of champagne using a sabre sword is just that. It’s drinking champagne the traditional way, the French way.

The art of sabrage dates back over two centuries, to the era of legendary French leader Napoleon Bonaparte and his military campaigns. The Napoleonic Wars followed the French Revolution of 1789, with Napoleon taking power a decade later and fighting across Europe soon after. The Hussars (light cavalry mounted on fast horses) were a symbol of Napoleons early successes and perceived invincibility. They were lavishly dressed young soldiers wearing short fur-trimmed jackets (Pelisses) and famously wielding brass hilted sabres. The story goes that during his early victories, Napoleons army would ride through a liberated town and the people would toss them champagne as thanks. You can imagine how difficult it would be to open foil-wrapped cages and remove the cork of a champagne bottle riding a horse. The Hussars had a fantastic solution - a swift stroke of the sabre blade to the weakest point on the neck of the bottle!

Napoleon military forces wielding their sabre swords
Image via Emperor library

Today there are many stories in circulation about how sabrage came to be, including a very romantic one surrounding Madame Clicquot, but it was one man and his military campaigns that are always at the centre. Thanks to Napoleon, sabres quickly grew in popularity and were created at state-of-the-art facilities in Versailles. Sabres have remained in use to this day, long after the rise and fall of Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Image by WikiImages via Pixabay


It surely is a spectacle to behold. Corks fly. Champagne bubbles flow. Onlookers cheer. Once you witness this extraordinary act, simply popping champagne the traditional way will forever feel mundane.

Want to learn how to properly perform sabrage from the expert hersel? Keep reading to find out The Champagne Dame’s tips for sabrage!


How to: Sabrage

  • Ensure that the bottle is well chilled, enough so that the neck feels almost frozen to the touch. The best way to do this is to place the bottle upside down (neck first) into an ice bucket.
  • Clear your workspace! We don’t want any injuries or breakages so make sure you clear any hazards and people out of your way before doing anything with a sword.
  • Remove all the outer foil wrapped around the cork, cage and neck of the bottle.
  • Open the cage and carefully place it upon the bottle's second rim. This will ensure the cage will come off and soar across the room with the top of the bottle.
  • Find the vertical seam of the bottle (where it has been welded together). This is the line you will be using to guide your sabre blade. Locate the spot where the vertical seam meets the lip of the bottle. That is the bottles’ weakest point.
  • Place the bottle in your nondominant hand with your thumb in the punt. Angle it about 45 degrees to minimise any spillage. Take your sabre in your stronger, dominant hand for total control over the tool.
  • Gently run your sabre blade along the bottle seam until it connects with the weak point, applying moderate pressure. The neck, cork and cage should all pop off seamlessly.
  • Don’t worry if you lose a little champagne in the process, this actually helps remove any shards of glass. Please take care around a sabered bottle as the edges will be extremely sharp and NEVER drink straight from the bottle!
The Champagne Dame performing sabrage at an event
Image via Emperor Library

You can purchase stunning sabres (both available with a presentation box or stand) from the Emperor website. We are also now taking preorders for blue handle sabres, arriving from France in the coming weeks! 

The Champagne Dame performing sabrage at an event
Image via Emperor Library

Shop the Emperor sabre sword collection here.

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