I'm a life-long fan of Alton Brown. Recently, I've loved his post-cable TV Youtube videos in which he revisits topics and techniques that he was not allowed to demonstrate on network television. These have included things like “dirty steaks” where you cook a hanger steak directly on natural wood coals, the most efficient way to light a grill (spoiler: it's by using what is basically a flame thrower), and, my favorite, a how-to for performing the mythically aristocratic “saber service”––how to open a bottle of champagne with a saber or other sword. His video tutorial is well worth watching.
There is just one issue with Brown's appeal that has stopped me from lopping off a few French corks, and that is my lack of a saber. For the longest time, I wasn't entirely sure what a saber technically was (wikipedia, as ever, conveys the gist.) So, out of curiosity, I began to poke around in the world of swords and sabers. Turns out, they are quite pricey. There is also an issue of finding a good quality sword in the first place while avoiding the often poorly made costume/mall ninja offerings that can clutter up a search for a real blade. So, in refining my search, it turns out that “champagne sabers” are a real thing, and they fit into a really interesting niche of semi-culinary/semi-ceremonial tools. Unfortunately they are expensive, even if they are beautiful, as with this Italian-made short saber.
Seeing examples of these official “champagne sabers,” however, got me thinking. What really is this device? At the end of the day, it is a heavy, straight blade around 10 inches long with enough heft to develop momentum in an upstroke to break the glass ring around the champagne's cork. When I thought about it like that, I thought, wouldn't a big ole cheap knife work? And it turns out that, yes, a bowie knife fits all of those requirements. A standard bowie knife, like this one, is 10 inches long, heavy, with a full tang and more heft than you could need for a saber service. Its a little unorthodox, but then again so is whacking off the top of a champagne bottle with a blade. And at $20-$30, it might be the cheapest way to pull of this possibly unnecessary (but doubtlessly awesome) maneuver.
And if you call me the Davy Crocket of Veuve-Clicquot, I'll take it as a compliment.