Index of Superfluous Necessities: The Spirits Decanter

The mark of a true gentleman is best illustrated in the details of how he carries himself, dresses himself and adorns his surroundings (and/or chooses to do away with frivolity while doing so).

TAKING a cue from this we shall visit the gentleman’s private bar, the place where he chooses to store a small but carefully curated selection of spirits for the Gentleman to enjoy at his leisure.

It is important that the gentleman carries a selection of spirits that suit his tastes (not a message or image he wants to convey) as well as those friends, colleagues and individuals whom imbibe with him in the pleasures of a Scotch or cocktail.

The Drink...

[TGG Hint; for more on re-stocking you bar see The Spirit’s “6 Upgrades to your Bar”]

In keeping with this notion (of doing away with unnecessary frivolity) a gentleman must eschew any possible show of pretension, unfortunately such avoidance is at times difficult as spirits producers have worked diligently in developing eye-catching labels which are as self-announcing as the shape of the bottles themselves.


Enter the Spirits Decanter.

The Decanter

Unlike a wine decanter which primarily serves to air a wine (in addition to separating sediment from the w2ine in older bottling) the spirits decanter hails from an era where a gentleman may have had his favorite local distiller bottle the spirit, straight from cask, into an often ornate decanter from his collection. These decanters were often made by the lead craftsmen of the day, many still recognized today: Christofle, Baccarat and in the Americans, Tiffany’s.

The crystal decanter

Today the spirits decanter, although made somewhat irrelevant by the lighter and more transportable bottle, serves as an elegant touch to a gentlemen’s bar an does away with the unnecessary affectations of recreating a gaudy tavern, with rows of labels, in what should be an elegant pursuit of pleasure… one sip at a time.


What to look for:


Look for a decanter which suits your tastes and sorroindings; cut glass is not a taste all enjoy equally. Should a Gentleman’s personal style lean more towards minimalist, then find a decanter which expressese the same kind of lean simplicity.

The most important part of a decanter is the stopper: it must create and air-tight seal, otherwise its contents will evaporate. Although plastic is popular, sanded glass, which requires a slight twist once inserted, is far superior.


Where to keep them:

The Setup

Keep decanters in an elegant setting on a bureau or in a corner table on a tray. Otherwise in the confines of a cupboard.


What to keep in them:


You’re go to spirits: Scotch, whiskey, gin, rum, etcetera. Cream-based liqueurs are best

The letter should reflect the spirit therein

in their bottles. Other items such as triple-sec or vermouth could also be kept in a decanter; but these are better-off kept stored in their own bottles.

While monogramming with one’s initials is a silly affectation having a single letter, that of the spirit  enclosed, is useful if all the decanters are the same style so that a “G” would denote Gin while a “S” is Scotch.



[All the decanters pictures in this post can be found at or at as part of his “Home Collection” the ‘modern’ decanters can be found at Crate & Barrell]




Guide to Man’s Drinks: Amber Spritz

The Young / Modern Gentleman proves his savvy by simple and cunning ways; an area that is most associated with a Gentleman’s ability is the wet-bar.

EVERY Gentleman should have one or two things on his sleeve that make him standout from his peers.

A spirit oft-overlooked in the world of cocktail, perhaps because of its much-earned pedigree as a reflective drink rather than one that is mixed in a cocktail; is Cognac.

Cognac, the venerable brandy from the a region in France of the same name, is made from wine (often a still white wine coaxed from Europe’s work-horse grape Folle-Blanche or, in Italy, Trebbiano), but what truly gives Cognac its character is wood/oak ageing. As it matures the brandy smoothes and develops in complexity.  XO Cognac, the highest denomination (which stands for “Extra Old”) is most definitely to be drunk neat. However other styles of Cognac such as VS and VSOP, in order of age (“Very Special” and “Very Special Old and Pale” respectively), lend themselves to a cocktail.

The Standards...

Substitute a VS Cognac in lieu of a Rye in a Manhattan and top it off with an Orange rind (instead of a cherry) for a sophisticated drink during cool nights.

Cognac also pairs wonderfully with Ginger, and here, becomes a spicy background to a wonderful “Amber Spritz

The Drink...


The Equipment:

  • Rocks Glass
  • Stirrer

The Stuff:

  • Cognac VS or VSOP
  • Ice
  • Candied Ginger Slice
  • Orange Peel

The Drink:

  • Fill rocks glass with ice.
  • Add 1 shot of Cognac (or two should the occasion call for it)
  • Add the Orange Peel and Ginger slice.
  • Top off with soda…
  • Stir
  • Enjoy…


5 Things of the Moment: Smells like Winter 2011

Is it too late to go into what to wear this winter? Of course not- especially with how crazy the weather’s been, it seems that winter, will be here for a while!

So what to wear? In our previous post we touched on the ins and outs of winter scents here, our Editor-At-Large, Alejandro Ortiz, talks about his favorite 5 fragrances for the season:


by: Alejandro Ortiz, Editor-at-Large

THERE are some absolutely astonishing men’s fragrances which have come my way, and as always, it’s the craftsmen, the true perfumers, outside the reigns of big multinationals which just want to create the season’s moneymaker, which are truly crafting great stuff:

[Samples were provided/sourced by/from Lucky Scent and Aedes de Venustas]


Memoir Man by Amouage

An immediate hit on the nose of something both mysterious and familiar- an Orange Julius tone of creamy bergamot whose mild powderiness unfurls to reveal a wooden core of mild-sandalwood tamed by something “darker.” The fragrance continues to evolve as it settles into base notes of musk, myrrh, and nuanced fragrances that take me to a Sufi temple somewhere in ancient Samarkand.

From Aedes de Venustas:

Heart- and basenotes that include Frankincense, Lavender, Oakmoss, Leather and Tobacco provide a resonant backdrop for beguiling top notes of Absinth, Wormwood and Basil.



Feuilles de Tabac by Harris Miller

When most people, men especially, see “Tobacco” in cologne they assume that it will smell like a well-aged Cohiba but what most don’t know is that the tobacco plant’s flowers are highly fragrant. Noctania Azteca intensely so… I keep a plant in my garden to keep the pests away from my vegetables and in the evenings, when the flower decides to express itself, it does so intently as to make anyone who’s near slightly dizzy due to its pungency.

This cologne catches just a glimpse of that: Top notes of sweet tobacco (flower) and Javanese cloves. Intense and beautiful- it stays singing a high note for a while. Soon it’s spicy core begins to surface with an array of Christmas spices (mace, ginger, allspice). This may be more apt to wear by a fire or a holiday party. Base notes of tonka beans, cinnamon, and cloves.

From Lucky Scent: (buy it here):

Cuban cascarilla oil, pimento berries, pine needles, sage, tobacco, tonka bean, Malay patchouli



Sartorial by Penhaligon’s

Top note-sharp!- of licorice, fennel and gin. This kindly gives way, as the frgrance ‘turns the page’ into slightly greener notes, something reminiscent of an apothecary and greenhouse—this mismatch of smells bgins to, after a minute or two settle into something a but more focused… sensual yet masculine. A slight smokiness that wafts the room with mild scents of tobacco, flowers (aldehydes) and a mix of botanicals which recalls a gin-based-tonic and therefore: juniper, coriander, citrus peel, powdered ginger and nutmeg. BUT do’s let this hyperbole mask the fact that this is a taut and tight-lipped (and very English) scent. IT is very nice actually… I would wear this to the opera, a social benefit, or something of the sort as it does scream old-world sophistication.

As the quintessential English dandy and couturier to the Queen Hardy Amies once said: “A man should look as if he bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, then forgot about them.” That’s Sartorial: tough and smooth, playful and elegant, impeccably tailored and as easy to wear as a bespoke suit.


From (buy it here):

Aldehydes, ozonic effect, metallic effect, violet leaf, neroli, cardamom, black pepper, fresh ginger, beeswax, cyclamen, linden blossom, lavender, leather, gurjum wood, patchouli, myrrh, cedar wood, tonka bean, oakmoss, white musk, honey effect, old wood effect, vanilla, amber



Oud 27 by Le Labo

A masterpiece of Oriental this fragrance is a breathable tale of Thousand and One Nights… amazing. Oudh, a fungal growth on old/fallen wood, produces an aroma so mesmerizing as to make one forget where they’re standing. It is woody all at once with notes of frankincense incense; cedar and spice which makes me think this is what the temples of Ancient Egypt smelled like.

This is the fragrance that will get someone to cuddle up to your neck to try and decipher the siren’s song emanating from it.

From the guys at Le Labo (buy it there):

As always, don’t expect just pure Agarwood in this perfume. It’s even more. It’s a lot of Agarwood, Cedar Atlas, Incense, Patchouli, Black Pepper, Safran, and Gaiac, just to mention the most prominent ingredients (there are 20 more…). Oud 27 is oriental in the purest form, overwhelming and disturbing in its signature and power. Think Genghis Khan meets Shah Jahan for tea with Scheherazade. Or even less politically correct, it’s 1001 Arabian Nights distilled into 27 intense ones. You will enjoy it.


My personal favorite:


Jasmin et Cigarettes by Etat Libre d’Orange

“Long Live Perfume, perfume is dead” Is Etat Libre’s motto which has declared its independence from the “normal universe of classic perfumery…” These guys are out of their minds and gentlemen everywhere should be happy for that!

I was intrigued by this fragrance when I heard about it, especially because the company that makes it: Etat Libre d’Orange, have some crazy-arsed perfumes for men such as “Fat Electrician” and “Don’t Get me Wrong Baby I don’t Swallow…” But the master behind their scents is Antoine Maisondieu who has created other highly regarded perfumes for  Comme des Garcons (Hinoki, Stephen Jones and Patchouli) as well as Van Cleef & Arpels (Muguet Blanc) as well as a host of others…

Jasmin et Cigarettes captivates you with a mild and absolutely sexy nuance of jasmin peeking through a captivating body of tobacco flowers, hay, oriental spices, woods and then settles into a beautiful muskiness tamed by dried Turkish apricot. My first reaction when I smelled this for the first time was “Holy shit…” I will be wearing this for years…


From the loons at Etat Libre (

It is the era of Harcourt Studios when Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich magnetised men with a Hollywood look in the eye, smoking a cigarette in a smoky black and white ambiance. Jasmin et Cigarette is also the slightly jasminy smell of a woman’s skin when she exposes her freshness to the dark seduction of night. A hazy atmosphere. The reminder of a fantasy, of an indelible trail she leaves on a dress at the break of day or in the intimate memory of the man who made love to her. It is elegance seen by Gainsbourg, the woman from the 80’s who smokes Gitane cigarettes and wears jeans and who, with astounding naturalness, claims her sensuality as a right. Transparency in sophistication, just a trace of jasmine mingled to the so far neglected smell of a cigarette. Jasmin et Cigarette is the twilight zone, the banned, addiction. Nicotine woman or heroine, she is an icon, the woman one longs for.

Composition: Jasmine asbolute, tobacco notes, apricot, tonka beans, curcuma, cedar, amber, musc…

(buy it here)


– Wear these with confidence and enjoy!

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: Winter Cologne

To many, winter and its smells, are more associated with the celebrations, rituals and foods of the season than with any other particular thing.

THIS, of course, differs depending on your particular cultural and ethnic background, but for most winter means musky tones; burning wood, pine, cinnamon, spices, etcetera. Throw into this mix, a healthy does of celebratory food which can range from the scent of masala and fish sauce, to jerk seasoning and roasting goose and, well, you get the idea… it’s a whole lot of smells thrown in together. So why add more?

The Difficulty of Choice…

Most men’s fragrance-choice gets dictated by 1) what their father wore 2) what they have worn more or less since high-school or college and/or 3) what their partner, girlfriend, wife etc has bought for them. Gentlemen; is this any way to truly choose anything that defines you as a person? We think not.

Man meets Fragrance.

The Ritual

As we covered in the “In an Out of Summer Colognes…(here)” there are some basics in the world of men wearing cologne which we will paraphrase here:

1- You should, but don’t have to, switch-up your cologne/scent two to three times a year; if anything, keep it simple: a scent for when it’s cold, and one for when it’s hot. Also, should a long vacation or trip be in the schedule, don’t be afraid to pick a small bottle of something up to wear during this time—say a Turkish inspired cologne for a month in Istanbul and the Bosphorus… it will always bring back great memories every time you smell it.

2- Buy small bottles. The smaller the better- most scents perform at their peak for 2 years or so, especially those with more natural compositions which bring us to the second:

3- Don’t buy scents at a drug-store: these are often left-over dregs which have been stored carelessly and are often years old. Stick to (yes, annoying) department stores perfume counters (insist you know what you like) or check out where you can browse by scent, producer and even order up as many samples as your heart desires.

4- Wear the stuff- to go to the drug-store, for a date, to lounge around the house: consider it aroma-therapy.

And remember:

5- You’re not supposed to smell cologne several feet away; in fact if a someone with their eyes closed can tell you’ve walked into a small room because of the smell of your cologne you’re wearing to much.

How much is enough (and this goes for the ladies too, a lot of women out there wear waaaay to much of the stuff…)? The idea is that only when someone gets close to you, enough to kiss you, then only then can tell you’re wearing a cologne. So that it is an integral part of you, an integral part of your presence, not an entirely different being that announces itself by its smell. No she (or he) is supposed to smell your cologne as a symbiosis between the perfumer’s art and your own chemistry.

Right! On with it!

Winter perfumes should not smell like a Christmas tree, nor remind you of Santa. That’s not the point- but because of the festivities, food, cold, and associated minutia encircling the winter season fragrances for this time tend to be a bit more substantial: woods, spices and musks.

The Winter Archetype: Brown Spices

Here we may hear such scents are “Orientals” which imply Indian sandalwood, star anise, and coriander, let’s say. Animalist scents, as uncouth as this may sound, is popular during this time, it gives you, its wearer, a bit of erotic mystique. These are namely ambergris (the best way we can put this… think of it as fermented sperm-whale honey), musks (most are synthetic…) and civet (a wild-cat… nuff said).

The Raw Ingredient: Sandalwood (Santal)

Moreover, whereas “fresh” citrus scents are apt in summer, winter (and fall for that matter) call for more cooked, roasted, and/or caramelized flavors: baked apples, burnt orange peel and the ever popular and fragrant bergamot (the orange which flavors otherwise ‘standard black’ earl grey tea.

Leathers have also become popular in fragrances as has, thanks to inroads made into perfumery, smells such as “smokiness”, all of which add a little bit of mystery and anticipation to the wearer, and that’s what you want!

Coming up: Smell’s like 2011 – Gentlemen’s Winter Fragrances

5 Things of the Moment: 2011 Resolutions

Five Resolutions for the New Year

The Resolute Man (from The Sartorialist Blog)

Why Five? We don’t know, we just like that number…

SO… Gentleman of the world, repeat after us: “I will…”

1) …buy at least one great pair of shoes:

Believe it or not, buying a pair of GREAT (and yes, expensive) pair of shoes a year, for three or four years, will save you lots of money in the long-run. Polish them regularly, roate usage over the course of a week, don’t jump into the pool with them and they will last you a life time! Start with lace-ups first: brown or black, keeping in mind brown (not an exotic type of brown) is the most versatile as it can be worn with just about anything, including a grey suit or a nice pair of jeans.

The Basic Shoe (Leffot)

  • We like: Tod’s, Peal & Co. (Brook’s Brothers), Leffot and Cole Rood & Haan

[check out Leffot for some of the best shoes…  here]

2)  … acquire one well tailored sports-jacket or suit:

The difference between a skillfully constructed jacket and the full suit is often 100USD-200USD so our logic says, spring up the extra couple bucks for the whole thing—but not just any suit; here we are exclusively talking about what will be the most versatile suit you ever buy: a navy suit. Why navy? Navy suits are handsome, can be work with anything from suede loafers and a grey polo underneath (for a casual feel) to a more formal configuration with a  crisp oxford shirt and chocolate-brown lace-ups and just about any tie you throw at it. Better yet, should you be on business for a day or two it’s the only suit you need to take. The jacket can be worn on its own with grey trousers or, for a night out on the town, jeans and a pair of boots.

The Navy Suit (Ralph Lauren)

What to look for:

  • Expensive DOES NOT usually mean better: but in the world of shoes and suits, those without flashy logos, it usually does- get ready to pay well over $800USD for one. (OR check out Brooks Brother’s which still has the industry’s best off-peg suits… for a trim look  try the Milano fit. J.Crew also has Loro Piana wool suits in their Ludlow line). Look for drape. Drape is the way the fabric hangs on your body- this is truly the biggest difference between a ‘good’ suit, and a ‘great’ one.
  • One or two buttons. Unless you’re in the American NBA player or are an African dictator, four to five buttons is never necessary… two are just enough as one (the bottom) remains unbuttoned. Which is why, should it have one button, we’d recommend it even more.
  • Wide face? Peak lapel. Skinny and long-ish face? Notch lapel. Or so goes the wisdom. Shawl collars are for smoking jackets and velvet frocks.
  • Construction: live in the tropics? The Carribean, Miami, Singapore, or the Philipiines? Stick to light cottons or twills and, if you can find it, a deconstructed jacket (i.e. one that is not lined and therefore ‘cooler’. Everywhere else try a multi-seasonal wool or wool blend. Scrunch it up in your hands; the fabric shoucl bounce back and not leave wrinkiles. If it does wrinkle, it’s cheap… keep walking.
  • Fit. TRUE FIT gentlemen is not waollowing in a jacket. The shouldders should be snug but not tight. Armholes high; cuff should not cover your hand and the jackets buttons shoulc cinch slightly at the waist. A great suit it supposed to give you a better figure (that’s silhouette in girl-speak) than you actually have… you’re not supposed to make the suit look worse than the shape it actually is. AND don’t cuff your pants…

Navy Suit! We like:

The Navy Suit revisited...


  • International: Ralph Lauren Black or Purple Label, Brooks Brothers, Zegna (***), Kitton, Canali and Loro Piana.
  • US: Billy Reid, Freeman’s Sporting Goods, Tomas Maier (trust us…) and by extension Bottega Veneta, and Tom Ford (should you want to part with part of your kids inheritance…)-(they are unforgettable suits however).
  • For the ‘fuller’ man: Brook’s Brother, J.Press (US only), Ralph Lauren, and Paul Stuart.
  • For the ‘rakish’ man: John Varvatos, Thom Brown… and by extension Black Fleece (Thom Brown for Brooks Brothers), and Phineas Cole (Paul Stuart).

3) … not smell like every other guy I  know:

Due to the passion of some (ahem) this blog, at times, has seemed as more of a fragrance blog than anything else.  A recent piece on the New York Times confessed that mos men’s sale of Colognes were in the guise of Bleu (Chanel) and Polo’s multi-colored and numbered creations: both rehashes of a much more refined Cool Water and a mis-match of old (boring) standards respectively. Live a little- smell different! Men are afraid of buying cologne, why, we don’t know… perhaps it’s because a man walking into a store and having something sprayed on him and then carefully smelling it conjures  a trifecta of paranoias of manlihood, vanity and foppishness that makes most men queasy. Fine we get it. If that’s the case try our friends at Luckyscent ( – you can search for your next fragrance by what you currently wear or by components such as “citrus”, “fresh” or “aqua”. Find a couple you like, order small samples at $3.00 each and try them in the privacy of your own man-space- try each on for a day or two (on your skin, this is important) and find the one you like! If you happen to be in New York check out Aedes de Venustas ( on 9th and Christopher Street.

We like: Memoir Man by Amouage, Feuilles de Tabac by Miller Harris (fantastic!) and Fiquier by Heeley (all available at Lucky Scent).

The scent for the Season...

For more “commercial” fragrances a few stand-out. Most large department stores both in the US and Internationally carry colognes from Creed and Santa Maria Novella… all worth trying as both houses make great stuff. The quintessential men’s cologne? Chanel’s Pour Monsieur Eau de Parfum (NOT the Eau de Toilette, not the Eau Concentree but the Eau de Parfum… trust us!).

The Archetype...

4) …Discover great champagne:

There’s seems to be something inherently effete about Champagne- perhaps it’s the bubbles or the endless tirade of images of scantily-clad women (and androgynous guys) drinking the stuff, but champagne has been relegated to the realm of feminine products. Rest assured there is nothing “precious” about drinking champagne; one of champagne’s biggest champions was Winston-Churchill and who’s going to argue that the boozy womanizer was not masculine? Churchill’s passion for Champagne was such than in one of his rallying speeches to English forces in World War II proclaimed “…remember Gentlemen, we do not do this only for France, but for Champagne!”

The Man

The problem is that many champagne houses are now owned by fashion houses, the very same peddling women overpriced bags, shoes and accessories (not to mention make-up). Case-in-point: Louis Vuitton, whose parent company, Louis-Vuitton-Moet Hennessey (LVMH) owns Chanel, DKNY, Dior, Pucci, Marc Jacobs, Aqua di Parma, Sephora, along with Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau d’Yquem, Hennessy Cognac, Champagne Krug, Moet-et-Chandon and Dom Perignon… to name a few of course. What this ultimately creates is Champagne being sold as a fashion accessory, the next “it bag” as opposed to what it really is: a wine. Champagne, the wine, is first and foremost a wine, one that has bubbles. It’s effervescence is at the same time both incidental and part of its magic. The wine, can only come from the hilly and remote region of Champagne in France, hence its namesake. This region, dotted with dozens of funny-sounding villages, produces a handful of wonderful and fabulous wine every gentleman should know and keep in his fridge, ready to enjoy and either celebrate a special occasion or make any occasion special.

The Bubbly... Cuvee Louis by Tarlant

What we like:

  • “Casual Bubbly”: Billecart-Salon Brut, Tarlant Zero, Bollinger, Pierre-Peters, Jaquesson, Roederer and Delamotte.
  • “Champagne for Romance”: Billecart Brut Rose
  • “Serious Celebratory Effervescence”: Krug Grande Cuvee, Dom Perignon Oenotheque Series 1979, Krug Clos de Mesnil 1990, Salon 1995, Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois 1988 or Vilmart et Cie “Cuvee Creation” 1997 (trust us…)

oh, and PS: ditch the flute and ask for a white wine glass instead…it’s wine, not a cocktail.

5)… learn to cook one new dish…

[From our friends at MAN-CAN-COOK]

Any woman will tell you a sexy man is one who can cook… and while the way to a man’s heart may be his stomach the kind of vivacious women worth holding onto have the very same gastronomic detour to their hearts.

Want to try something great? We like:

Pasta all’amatriciana

The indispensable dish...

(adapted / inspired by “Hosteria Oswaldo” in Rome)


  • 1 x 1lb can of “San Marzano” Tomatoes (ask the clerk…)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1Tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • 3 strips of bacon (fatty bacon), chopped (for authenticity’s sake one should use pancetta)
  • 2 Tablespoons of cream
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • ¼ lb / 100gr. Dry Spaghetti or Spaghetti Rigatti (TGG reccomends Barilla)


  • 1 small to medium sauce-pan
  • 1 large pot for boiling
  • 1 blender (or food mill should you be inclined)
  • cheese grater
  • knife

The method:

  • Small saucepan: with of olive oil on medium heat stir around the chopped shallot of and garlic until soft (but not brown).  Add the Red pepper flakes.
  • Add tomatoes and crush them with a spoon; and let the sauce sit until it bubbles a couple times. Turn on low—let it simmer away (on low heat) for 15 minutes.
  • Place in blender and liquefy. Clean the pot and put it back on the heat.
  • Now, on medium heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil and the bacon. Cook the bacon a bit but not to a crisp. Add the puree of tomato, the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. On low heat bring it back to a simmer for 5 minutes and then turn it off!
  • Fill big pot with water, bring it to a boil, and add enough salt until it tastes like seawater. Follow the packaged instructions for an al-dente pasta (usually 7 minutes).
  • Once done, drain the pasta (reserve 1 cup of the liquid); and put hot pasta in a bowl. Add six or so tablespoons of the hot tomato sauce with bacon and two tablespoons of grated cheese. Toss.
  • Serve in two bowls and spoon excess toss from the bowl on top and grate some cheese over the two portion.
  • You’re done… enjoy!
  • Rosso di Montalcino or a Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, while not local, are you’re best bets…

Happy 2011!

To all the Ladies and Gentlemen fans of TGG… a very warm New Year’s greetings- here’s hoping for a prosperous 2011!

Stay tuned… It only gets better from here…