While writing The 2AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure, it became clear that the key to catching a person’s attention at any event is to have a unique and interesting skill. Sabering a bottle of champagne is a party trick that is guaranteed to intrigue and delight party-goers.

water, wine
Photo courtesy of wikimedia

There are several different tales of how sabrage came about. Most of them claim Napoleon Bonaparte or men from his military were the first to think that uncorking a highly pressurized bottle of champagne with a sword, causing it to shoot out cork and glass was a good idea.

Brilliant idea or not, sabering a bottle of champagne will undoubtedly capture people’s curiosity. I have popped open a bottle of champagne this way countless times during my adventures around the world, at parties and even The Influencers Dinners.

beer, liquor, champagne, alcohol, wine
Caroline Early

For those that want to master this trick, remember to do it safely and follow this quick guide to sabering:

– Unwrap the foil from the neck of the bottle. (Cold bottles tend to work best.)

– Run your thumb around the neck. You will feel two lines that run vertically on opposite sides of the bottle. These are a result of the production process, and they are going to guide you.

– There is a metal cage that prevents the cork from flying out. Although there is some debate about whether to leave it on or take it off, I personally prefer off.

– Point the bottle in a safe direction. If you choose to remove the cage, point the bottle away from anything that can be damaged or anyone who could get hurt. The flying cork surrounded by sharp glass can shoot out at a very high speed and at distances of close to 20 feet. For example:

+ Don’t just shoot it off toward a building, because you could hit people on the street.

+ Some pieces of glass will fall to the floor next to you so make sure you aren’t doing it anywhere people will walk barefoot.

 – Clear the area around you. You don’t want to unintentionally hit someone with the knife of the cork.

– Hold the bottle in your weaker hand with one of the seams facing up, and shake it a little to build up pressure.

– Choose your sabering instrument. (The term sabering is derived from the long, usually curved sword called the saber. However, a Katana, a sword forged from Valyrian steel, the Thundercats’ Sword of Omens━or just a plain, large kitchen knife will do.)

– In a single motion, run the blade along the seam all the way to the lip of the neck. The internal pressure, combined with the strike at such a vulnerable point, will cause the top of the neck to shoot off with the cork.

A flurry of bubbles and wine will spout out and should be poured as quickly as possible, so as not to be lost. The pressure from the bottle should clear all glass shards from the neck, making it safe to drink. 

Important considerations:

+ You are NOT chopping off the top. It probably wouldn’t end well if you did. Instead, you are running the blade in a single motion against the glass, almost parallel to the bottle.

+ It may take several attempts. If you can’t get it to work on one side of the bottle, try rotating it to the other seam and attempting again. 

– Make sure to clean up all shards of glass and find the cork, if you can.

– The neck will be very sharp and will pierce trash bags, so once the bottle is empty, I take a sheet of tinfoil, fold it several times, and wrap it around the top of the neck to prevent injury.

If you want to take it to the next level and saber a bottle using only a champagne flute or a wineglass, get the advanced how-to guide, along with other party tricks and tales of drunken debauchery, wild stories and insane antics in my book: The 2AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure. And above all, party responsibly.

pizza, beer
Photo courtesy of Jon Levy

This article is courtesy of Jon Levy, author of The 2AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure. It has been given minor edits before posting.