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The Father-Son Duo Behind The Brown Palace’s Champagne Cascade

How the festive affair became a family tradition.

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The Brown Palace’s Champagne Cascade may look like a cavalier display of elegance, but slicing the tops off bottles of Moët & Chandon bubbly with replicas of Napoleonic sabers is a serious—and dangerous—endeavor. Just ask Mat Dinsmore, who’s been involved in the delicate task at the hotel (which celebrated its 125th anniversary in August) for the past 15 years: “If you miss, the bottle is so pressurized that it blows up, and those glass shards cut right through your shirt and neck and chest.”

The fourth-generation Loveland native gleaned such wisdom from his father, Dennis, a former Moët employee who built the Brown Palace’s multi-story pyramid of Baccarat crystal when the event first began 30 years ago. (This year’s sabering happens on November 20.) Back then, Moët’s resident swordsman, Robert Gourdin, traveled across the country sabering for Champagne cascades. But he relied on local reps—Dennis, in the case of the Brown Palace—to construct the fragile layers of glass, which can take five to eight hours to stack. In the early 2000s, Dennis took over sword duties at the Brown Palace as a favor to the hotel. Since then, he’s also done the slicing during a Guinness World Records attempt at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace and at Super Bowl XLV. Yet Dennis’ favorite cascade remains the one he executes with his son, a custom that helps him see the glasses of sparkling wine as (at least) half full.

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Champagne Fun Facts

This article appeared in the November 2017 issue of .

Mary Clare Fischer, Assistant Editor

Mary Clare Fischer co-edits 5280’s Compass, Adventure, and Culture sections; writes for multiple sections of the magazine; and blogs weekly about health and wellness for 5280.com.

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