Is it possible to find a cocktail-inspired fragrance that doesn't smell like a bar? Totally. I tested out five fragrances and took them to my local watering hole for further analysis.
1. Penhaligon's Juniper Sling Eau de Toilette
Penhaligon's is one of my favorite British perfume houses. (Fun fact: The founder was the official perfumer to Queen Victoria.) Launched in 2011, Juniper Sling was inspired by London Dry Gin. Did I mention I'm a huge gin martini fan? The primary note of the fragrance is juniper berry (also used to make gin), which has a citrusy, green scent. There are also top notes of angelica and brandy, and base notes of brown sugar, black cherry, vetiver, and ambrox. Not to mention a little leather, black pepper, orris wood, and cardamom to round things out.
The cocktail that most reminds me of this fragrance is the basil gimlet. I make it with a slightly simplified version of a Food Network recipe.
5-7 basil leaves
1/2 oz. simple syrup (try this recipe)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz. gin (I suggest Hendrick's)
Combine basil leaves, simple syrup, and lime juice in a shaker with ice and gently bruise the basil with a bar spoon to release the oils. Add gin, shake, and serve in a coupe glass.
2. Commodity Goods Gin
Don't let this fragrance's simple name fool you; it's so much more than just gin. (Though, for the record, I'm usually cool with straight up gin as far as drinks go.) Green, citrus notes of eucalyptus and bergamot hit you right off the bat, along with a watery smell that's so fresh and right for summer. Below this "watery" surface is a mix of jasmine, blonde woods, leather, patchouli, sandalwood, and musk. It's very silky and the citrus notes get more intense the longer you wear it.
A fragrance as nuanced and smooth as this deserves a complex cocktail like the gin fizz.
Gin Fizz (recipe credit: Imbibe Magazine)
1 1/2 oz. gin
1 tbsp. simple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 egg white (pasteurized, if you like)
1 oz. heavy cream
3 drops orange flower water
1 oz. club soda, chilled
Combine first seven ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake vigorously to combine. Add ice to the shaker and shake again for at least a couple of minutes (more if you have it in you). Strain into a glass, top with club soda, and stir.
3. Penhaligon's Opus 1870 Eau de Toilette
Let's switch to brown spirits for a second. Any bourbon fans in the house? Opus 1870 is warm, spicy, and comforting, like sipping Woodford Reserve in a posh home library.
Top notes of bourbon, black pepper, coriander, and yuzu fruit lend sugar and spice, while English clove, rose, cinnamon, and incense add intensity. Base notes of cedarwood, sandalwood, and musk make for a smoldering dry down.
Typically, if I'm drinking bourbon, I'm drinking it neat. But a fragrance like this calls for an occasion cocktail, such as the mint julep. I've been making mint juleps with this recipe for years.
Rachel's Mint Julep
5-6 fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. simple syrup
3 oz. bourbon (I use Four Roses. I heard it's what Faulkner preferred.)
Muddle the mint in the simple syrup until the oils start to release. Strain the mixture into a julep cup or tumbler, add bourbon, and top with a mound of crushed ice and a few extra mint sprigs.
4. Commodity Goods Mimosa
I keep Champagne in the house at all times, because I'm always down for a good Champagne party. I like my mimosas with grapefruit juice as opposed to orange juice, but this Commodity Goods fragrance contains all sorts of delicious fruit notes.
Mimosa is a sweet, citrusy scent with top notes of blood orange, grapefruit, and mandarin orange. The fruitiness is balanced by touches of black pepper, jasmine, geranium, tonka bean, and ylang ylang. The freshness of the florals makes me think of Champagne bubbles.
I make my mimosas using a simple recipe: fill a Champagne flute nearly to the top with Champagne (Cook's Extra Dry is my ride or die) and top it off with the juice of your choice. Tip: skip juices with artificial sugars or you'll be on an express route to Headache City.
5. Maison Martin Margiela REPLICA Jazz Club
Close your eyes, take a whiff, and imagine you're in a balmy Brooklyn jazz club, throwing back spiced rum cocktails into the wee hours. Isn't perfume great?
This fragrance is INCREDIBLE. Described on the label as "heady cocktails and cigars," the scent combines spicy peppercorn, lemon, and neroli with darker notes like rum, clary sage oil, tobacco, vetiver, and vanilla. It's dizzying and narcotic in the most "come hither" of ways.
As much as I adore Jazz Club, I'm not much of a spiced rum drinker. But I love me a mojito! I use this adapted, light-on-the-sugar recipe from Epicurious.
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. simple syrup
1 cup crushed ice
12 fresh mint leaves, plus 5 small sprigs for garnish
2 oz. white rum
2 tbsp. club soda
In a 10-ounce glass (such as Collins or highball), stir together lime juice and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 cup crushed ice. Rub mint leaves over rim of glass, then tear leaves in half and add to glass. Gently stir for 15 seconds, then add rum, remaining crushed ice, and club soda. Gently stir for five seconds, then tuck mint sprigs into top of glass and insert tall straw.
What are your favorite cocktail-inspired scents? More importantly, what's your signature cocktail?