The Milestone, Uncorked
Many a politician, celebrity, and conqueror have waxed poetic about the delights of a good bottle of bubbly. Winston Churchill found it stirred up emotions, "A single glass of Champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced, the imagination is stirred, the wits become nimble." English novelist Graham Greene said the sparkling wine was better than a lie detector "because it encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless." For 18th-century French conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte, it hit the spot regardless of outcomes on the battlefield. "Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it."
In fact, it was Bonaparte's cavalry who created a legendary tradition that The Milestone Hotel in London continues to this day. It's the art of Sabrage–or opening a bottle of Champagne the way soldiers on horseback would upon receiving bottles of what we know today as Veuve Clicquot, courtesy of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the young widow who kept her husband's wine cellars alive after his death.
The master sabreur dresses the part, wearing the traditional cloak and hat of the Confrérie du Sabre d'Or, an organization that continues the proud tradition of sabering.
The morning after a particularly festive evening partying at the Clicquot Champagnerie, Napoleon's soldiers would applaud Madame Cliquot's hospitality by lopping off the tops of the bottles with their sabres as a show of gratitude before heading off to war.
"The French army still celebrates a victory with sabering a bottle of Champagne," according to The Milestone Hotel's in-house master sabreur, Fabrizio Russo, a member of the Confrérie du Sabre d'Or, an organization that continues the proud tradition worldwide. Join Fabrizio at The Milestone Hotel to share his delight in the exuberant ritual with a private lesson in the art of sabrage.
The master sabreur dresses the part, wearing the traditional green cloak and yellow-feathered hat of the Confrérie, to demonstrate the centuries-old technique. The blade travels up the neck of the bottle to break it away near the cork, leaving the main body of the bottle open and ready to pour. The aim is to have a perfectly level break. Now, it’s your turn to try.
After the lesson, guests receive a certificate noting they have joined the brotherhood of the golden sabre. The experience also includes a three-course meal from Cheneston's Restaurant à la carte menu to accompany the bottle you've so skillfully uncorked.
To learn more about The Milestone Hotel, or to arrange a private lesson in the art of sabrage, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.