Sabrage with Seger

img_0067One of my New Year’s resolutions is to work on my fearlessness, and my goal was put to the test at Chicago mixologist Adam Seger’s annual New Year’s Day gumbo extravaganza. Every year, Seger invites his foodie friends to soak up the best homemade hangover grub ever: A massive batch of spicy pheasant gumbo, beef chili, and some of the tastiest barbecue ribs I’ve ever tried complements of Twisted Spoke owner Mitch Einhorn. Being a New Year’s Day celebration at a mixologist’s abode, there were bottles of fantastic wines and Champagne literally everywhere, a number of which were mysteriously missing their tops, lopped off by Seger and some of his braver guests. By lopped, I mean “sabered”—a trick I had seen done before but never had the courage to try. The bottle-opening “sabrage” technique was said to be done by Napoleon’s soldiers, and is still used today as a spirits spectacle. When Seger handed me a chilled (very important) bottle of Agrest de Guitard Cava Brut nature 1998 and a Chinatown meat cleaver, I had no choice but to give it a shot. He showed me how to find the “seams” in the bottle, how to hold it from the bottom at a 45-degree angle and how to relax before taking two trial swipes across the body of the bottle with the dull side of the knife. The third swipe involved following through on the pressure point and sending the top clean off its neck and into the air, safely towards the wall, shedding nary a drop of Champagne. It’s easier than it looks, but I recommend consulting Seger or another highly trained mixologist before trying this technique on your own. And like opening any bottle of bubbly, be sure to point it away from guests, windows, etc.. No one got a photo of the actual sabering, but the bottle and sabered aftermath are pictured above.


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