“Champagne: in victory, one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.”
Innovator & founder, John Jacob Astor IV in 1904 introduced to New York, The St. Regis Hotel. It is not just a hotel by any standard but a world of opulence, timeless elegance and luxury. It was also technologically advanced as he insisted on having a telephone in every room; a fire alarm system, central heating and a air-cooling system that efficiently pre-dated modern air conditioning and allowed each guest to control the temperature of the room. It was critically acclaimed by The New York Times as “the finest hotel in America”.
One of many interests that John Jacob Astor IV found interesting was Champagne Sabering. Dating back to the battles of Napoleon Bonaparte, who famously opened champagne with his saber in both victory and defeat, the art of sabrage is the signature ceremony of the St. Regis evening rituals in its establishments.
Every evening the champagne sabering starts at 6:45pm when day transitions to night. The Lobby Bar envelopes you in discreet refinement, an intimate and modern gathering haven with an enclave that houses floor to ceiling wines and champagnes. What I would call a slice of heaven and I felt like a kid in a candy store.
The selection for sabering is usually, a young vintage champagne as the pressure still on the cork is optimal for sabering. If you are a novice, I’d recommend to start with Prosecco for practise. The bottle(s) are prepared by chilling between 45-48°F or 7-8°C for 24 hours to lower its pressure and vibration. Then:
- Reverse the bottle in an ice bucket approximately 20 minutes before opening.
- When ready, reveal the cork by removing the foil in its entirety. Then, unwind and discard the wire basket.
- Carefully pointing the bottle upwards, slide the blade of the saber along the body towards the neck. The force of the blade as it hits the lip of the bottle’s neck will break the glass. The cork and collar will remain intact, and the champagne will be ready for a toast.
The sound of the champagne cork popping never dates and is just splendid. And pssst!…did I mention that it’s a complimentary glass for all…hotel guests AND guests that want to come and experience the Art of Sabering? It’s a no brainer. Whilst you are sipping your champagne, gorge on the lovely Spanish Manchego cheese cubes, olives and toasted mixed spice nuts that accompanies it.
Then move onto the insanely delicious, The Glitzy Mary. After you take just a sip, I dare you not to down the rest like there is no tomorrow. This take on the original Bloody Mary Snapper from New York St. Regis, is insatiable. And true to its word.
A little history which I find gives anything a bit more substance, “In 1934, famed barman Fernand Petiot perfected the recipe for a vodka-and-tomato juice cocktail, known as the Bloody Mary at The St. Regis New York’s King Cole Bar. Originally christened the “Bloody Mary”, the cocktail was renamed the “Red Snapper” so as not to offend the hotel’s refined clientele. After more than 80 years, the iconic Bloody Mary remains the signature cocktail of the St. Regis. Each hotel and resort in the St. Regis portfolio has crafted its own unique, locally inspired interpretation of the brand’s signature cocktail.”
And when you start feeling for more than just nibbles, their substantial Bar Bites menu has a great selection. We opted for only lobster tacos as we were quite satisfied with the bar snacks, but we were a little disappointed on this front as the taste was a bit bland. However, it will not deter us from coming back for the Champagne Sabering, The Glitzy Mary and the rest of the bar bites selection, it is only fair!
So what are you waiting for?. Absolutely worth it and it should be a regular watering spot from now on…it is for yours truly. Importantly, when I travel, I will want to explore all the St. Regis Hotel establishments. Each hotel and resort in the St. Regis portfolio has crafted its own unique, locally inspired interpretation of the brand’s signature cocktail.