Baldwin native and Coral House general manager Frank Esposito knows how to open a Champagne bottle. But instead of popping the cork, he has another, more cutting-edge approach – slicing the top off with a saber.
“I don’t really know how I picked this up,” Esposito said. “I guess it started when I was a kid, popping open bottles for fun.”
On New Year’s Eve, Esposito took a stab at breaking the Guinness record for his unique talent. With speed, efficiency and a quick flick of the wrist, Esposito managed to open 48 bottles of Champagne in one minute. Later that day, he tried again and opened 50. That total is three more than the record set by Italy’s Mirko Rainer in September, although Esposito’s mark still needs to be verified by Guinness World Records.
“I knew he could open bottles, but I really didn’t know if he could actually break the record,” Laurie Esposito, Frank’s sister and Coral House banquet sales manager said. “I’m amazed, we have something to celebrate tonight.”
The attempt was held on the windy roof of Baldwin’s Coral House to avoid making a mess while the hall set up for New Year’s Eve festivities. Though the run went pretty smoothly, Esposito did break a few bottles, spilling Champagne all over the floor.
“To do this, I just need to zone out and forget everything else that’s going on around me,” Esposito said. “I can’t pay attention to time, or anything else or it will throw me off.”
According to Esposito, opening a Champagne bottle is fairly simple. All you have to do is line the blade up with the vertical seam of the glass and skim the bottle from the bottom to the top, flicking the neck off with the force of the blade.
“If you get the technique right, you can do it with a butter knife, or even a spoon,” Esposito said, laughing. “It just takes practice.”
Esposito’s talent was discovered last New Year’s Eve, almost by accident.
“We had hired a professional swordsman to do this for New Year’s Eve entertainment at the Coral House last year, but he ended up canceling at the last minute,” Esposito said. “So, I stepped in. Everyone was really surprised I could do it.” He only opened “around two dozen” bottles last year, nowhere near the record, he added.
After the stunt, Esposito went right back to work preparing the hall to accommodate more than 1,000 guests at the hall for New Year’s Eve. He won’t be celebrating until after the night is over – and it won’t be with Champagne.
“When all is said and done tonight, I’m toasting with a nice glass of Scotch,” he said. “No Champagne for me.”