Sabrage nights launch at Champagne Bar, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

Sabrage ceremony

If someone invited you to a night of sabrage, what would you say? Are you saying  ‘Yes’ to an evening of card games, experiencing a new line in bra extenders or perhaps trying a new eyebrow treatment for the only part of our body we are comfortable with being bushy?

In fact Sabrage is an ancient ceremony dating back to the post-battle celebrations of Napoleon and his French cavaliers in the late 1700s. It all about decapitating a bottle of champagne with a sabre. Now this to us seems like a bad idea.  Take 49 million bubbles, 90 pounds per square inch of pressure (that’s double a bus tire) for fun let’s add a one metre long sabre. If that’s not a lethal weapon combo we don’t know what is. Seriously what were you thinking? Well the chaps at Champagne Bar, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour thought it would be fun…

You know what, it is.

It has to be said, Sydney’s only dedicated hotel champagne bar is a beauty. Just clippity clack along the glossy wooden catwalk, its all sparkly due to the refraction’s from a glass champagne wall, landing you in a place full of Swarovski crystal net chandeliers, high tables and stunning Darling Harbour views. The Bar is expansive; big windows, flower displays, and oh my! An eight hundred strong wine list.  Go no further than the signature 2009 vintage Louis Roederer in collaboration with artist Philippe Starck just $25.

We are here for the sabrage but we would suggest kicking off the evening with a champagne Rose Flight (Thursdays & Fridays). Start with a Tattinger Prestige Rosé paired with Ash goat cheese and coal crackers then Pommery Rosé with salmon rillettes and blinis then Ruinart Rosé with hazelnut cream pot and rasberrys.  Executive Chef Eric Costille has worked in Michelin starred restaurants around the world finds his feet here.

Now onto the sabrage – If you have longed to shout out the words “off with their heads” then the staff will sabrage any bottle of champagne you like.  Champagne Manager Sutari Martinez kicks off the evening with the first ceremony at 7pm, after months of training by the ‘Bubble Sisters’.

Give yourselves a 15 minute break whilst your bottle (aka weapon) is being chilled.  Next, Sutari takes to the main floor as everyone stops drinking and starts gawking…white gloves are donned, sabre is prepared, feet stable, champagne bottle held out to an angle. Silence descends and poof! The top is off, shooting over into Atelier restaurant! Everyone claps, your bottle is now ready to drink and you get to take home a beautifully boxed memento of the severed head (aka top!).

Sabrage may have been started by Napoleonic soldiers (who we bet were probably too lazy to uncork a bottle in a gentlemanly way), preferring bravado and spectacle. Today its a rare but exciting experience which reconnects us to a different continent and a time in history. There is something a bit magical and a bit insane about all of that – but we like it!

Champagne Bar

Level 3, 12 Darling Drive, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Hours: Monday to Thursday 5pm – 12am, Friday, Saturday 3pm – 1am, Sunday 5pm – 11pm


Fridays only. Complimentary sabrage offer for every bottle above $299 or $20 for any bottle under $299.

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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