Smell’s Like Spring/Summer: The ins and outs of seasonal cologne…

The Splash

More than just clothes summer, or the changing of any season for that matter, affords one the ability to also change the way they smell. Your perfume, or cologne, for those sensitive types who feel emasculated by the calling it perfume, is a scent unto yourself.

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, snuggle-kiss-close then only then can tell your 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.

Moreover perfume is like a watch, or shoes, or belts; there are particular ones for different seasons, times of the year, moods, etc. Like the kind of shirt you wear on any particular instance you need to ask yourself; am I wearing this to be comfy? Am I on the prowl? Am I going to a nice dinner? The beach? The Café? Walk the dog? A wine tasting, in which case don’t wear one!

Believe it or not these are all considerations to take- but my fellow one-thing-at-a-time-can’t-chew-gum-and-walk-at-the-same-time kinsmen; don’t fret; we may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s stick with the four seasons at the very least; while it may not be necessary to rotate through four different scents a year (unless you REALLY want to, as most regular guys can get away with two) let’s at least, for shits and giggles, discuss the parameters of what “seasonal colognes” may look like:


You’re just coming our of week of brutal cold (maybe) and all that comes with it; so whatever the scent is it has to make that transition. Here is where “manly florals” come in as well as soft musks. Nothing overly flowery and nothing too dark and spicy; while at the same time leaving the full-blown citrus smells for the summer. Think mild spices (peppercorn, absinthe, juniper, cinnamon), flowers (hyacinth, violets, vetiver, patchouli), and ( I know I’m loosing you…) soft fruits; bergamot, etc.

The Prototype: Polo Black

Ok- enough; let’s keep the rest simple;


‘Aquatic’ smells; citrus, juniper, mints, think, if smells were colors; green, yellow, and light blue.

The Prototype: Cool Water, Aqua di Gio


This is where it gets interesting because there is a certain amount of overlap here and with the spring scents, without the floral and powdery notes, only this can afford to be a little headier, a little rounder, more mysterious with brown/baking spices, musk, but still a smattering of flowers and orchard and stone fruits, vetiver et al.

The Prototype: Chanel Pour Homme


Here we get into deep territory because winter can afford the gentleman a wide array of very cool and exotic scents- (wikipedia these guys) with things like oudh, ambergris, amber, musks, tobacco etc. You want this to smell like you with a bit of mystery, a bit of anticipation…

The Prototype: Tom Ford

From Theory to Actual Practicality:

Is this all necessary—yes and no, read my previous post  here on “ritual”- Ritual makes every day mundane things into elements of pleasure. Trust me. I travel nearly 250 days-a-year and definitely do not carry a treasure chest of perfumes with me, but I do carry one or two choice specimens on me at all times.

Scent Obsessed?

TGG ASKS/ Q: Do you really have to buy four perfumes for the whole year?

A: No. As for myself I actually juggle more like six or five; and not necessarily by season. For most of last summer I wore what has become one of my favorite perfumes of all time; Annick Goutal’s “Mandrigore” (buy here). The website says it’s supposed to be a composition of mandrake and other stuff but what it really reminds me of is a spicy mojito. In the fall I retired the scent, but if I had to go for a week-long trip inot the hot and humid climes of South-East Asia Mandragore was one of my first things to pack and I relished every second of it in a warm respite before returning back to the cold (and to a headier cologne). Another summertime favorite, especially by the beach was “Incontro” by Feragammo, a great little citrus-fresh perfume.

For the cold I have a usual ‘go-to’ which is what I wear the most often and that’s Creed’s Tabarome (buy here); if my girl misses me, this is what she sprays on the pillow. It’s good to have a scent like this, a scent that’s yours and is immediately identifiable with you- a scent, like a lucky shirt or your lucky underwear, that although you might do and try a bunch of other things, you still go back to.

In Delhi for late night partying, clubbing and mixing (or anywhere else for that matter-) my “ay papi” scent became Chanel’s “Pour Monsieur”; a haunting perfume that drives most women crazy, or my partner’s “1211” by Frappin (perfumes are universally unisex; the rest is marketing).

In cool spring and in summer nights, and the one little bottle I travel with quite a bit is Bulgari’s “Pour Homme Soir” which smells of bergamot, candied ginger, metal-aldehydes (sort of like an icy, metallic floweriness), and ends with a touch of leather and amber- very masculine, very cool.

But again, these all stay at home and a may bring one or two with me when I travel, especially if I know I’m going out and I have my “day” cologne and then my “evening cologne”

But, if you’re a one-smell-fits all kind of guy then so be it; I’m not, and subsequently all my toiletries deodorants, shaving cream and aftershave are scentless. But that’s just me, ultimately it adds a bit of fun to your life.

The stuff...

For this Spring/ Summer (accent on summer) TGG brings you a linne-up of some perfect pairings for summer and some of my personal favorites, one smell-inspired post at  time:

Smells like Summer: The Archetype- Davidoff’s Cool Water

ALL hail the Classic(s)…

The Summer

Summer is ultimately about sun. Often sun comes with water; in the form of beaches, pools and lakes. There is a casual ease about the long rambling days of summer as the cool morning air melts under a softly pulsating sun which kisses the air with its lusty warmth.

Summer is a time when even the most uptight Brit dons colorful pants and strips down to his swimming briefs (god forbid) to enjoy the water and soak up the fun.

Summer is also the time for forbidden romances—when weeks of dieting after the winter holidays gives way to sorbets and ice-cream; where a flash of your girlfriend or wife tanning as she lays down remind you of naughty desires; when the smell of coconut, salt and wafts of summer food, alcohol and pheromones fills the air.

In an earlier post TGG waxed poetic on the ins and outs of summer scents (here) and featured citrusy concoctions from Le Labo and Santa Maria Novella to a true wonder: salty air and sun-tan lotion-scented cologne from CB I Hate Perfume.

Fruits and flowers are an easy stretch of the imagination for colognes; but there is another genre, which we will call “aquatic cyphres” that bring the crisp, steely and refreshing aspects of water (or what we think of water anyway) to the fore. It is a genre almost singe-handedly created by Pierre Bourdon who in 1988 took the world by storm with his concoction for a cigar-house and called it  “Davidoff Cool Water”.

In the last breaths of the 1980’s came a new meme onto a world; a world full of possibilities one which was to shed things like floppy disks and cassettes for the Internet and the iPod. That meme was “Cool Water”- with racy ads, a full media blitz and it’s lingering sexy smell it was the equivalent of a song that at first you love then love to hate. No kid in America missed this phenomenon and if you were in middle school or high-school a coveted bottle or an erstwhile splash guaranteed you would become your school’s Casanova. It was an aphrodisiac, a statement, an emotional sentiment- it also spawned many imitators, all fabulous perfumes on their own right such as Aqua de Loewe, Aqua di Gio, Polo Blue  and Dolce & Gabbana Blue: all reversed engineered versions of the original.

All perfumes are self-identifiers, markers of emotion and this is what makes them great. Pick a bottle of this up; albeit bashfully, and splash some on the way out to the market, the beach, lunch or for the night bar-hopping—you will see the response.

The top notes of lavender, herbals, citrus and jasmine with a heavy aquatic nose recede to reveal middle notes of sandalwood (ever so slightly in order to remind you this is a male scent after all), musk and cedar. It’s ethereal.

“’What is that?’ is the most common response by women of a certain age…” says one of our contributors who we’ll call ‘Jay,’ “… a whole generation of women came of age and discovered their sexuality with men wearing cool water; it’s an immediate smell-association thing…” Of course it can backfire and moreover no where was Cool Water more popular than in the states; but nevertheless it’s allure does translate. All you need is a nose.

The Mold

GG Classification: Spring/Summer

Recommended for: sunrise through sunset- possible catnip (or a slap in the face). Oh and definitely go light on it! Many women remember Cool Water as being a very “strong” scent but they moistly remember it from the their youth when guys usually spray waaay to much on…

Guide to Man’s Drink (Summer 2010): The (Charbay) Screwdriver

Get screwed…

The world first heard of the ‘screwdriver’ in a 1949 Times article claiming Turkish and American engineers would concoct orange juice and vodka cocktails in their office with only their screwdrivers to stir the drink. Todays rendition hasn’t changed much it is, in effect, and will always be vodka and orange juice; but we suggest you step it up a bit. Ditch the Stoli and the overpriced Vodkas and reach for some hand-crafted Vodkas: TGG Recommends Tito’s Handmade Vodka (here) and our friends at Charbay (here); their clear Vodka is superb but here we take the screwdriver and give it a bit of an upgrade.

The Drink

The Equipment:

  • Highball Glass
  • Orange Wedge/ Slice

The Stuff:

  • Charbay Blood Orange Vodka (or any clear vodka- forget the artificially flavored Stoli…)
  • Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

The Drink:

  • Fill highball glass with ice pour one part vodka, two parts juice, stir.
  • Garnish with orange slice.
  • Lay back and enjoy.

Natural Fruit-extracted and hand-crafted vodkas...

Smells like Summer: “At the Beach 1966” by CB I Hate Perfume

B I Hate Perfume, yes this is the name of the perfume house, is another one of the perfume world’s badass non-conformists. Led by the indomitable Christopher Brosius (of Demeter Dirt and Snow fame)  CBIHP recalls the very personal smells of his memories; perfumes with a story to tell. Why does he “hate” perfume: “Perfume is too often an ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape.

These are not just individual scents in their own right (i.e. in the bottle) but because of Briosus’ unique water-based formula they linger on your skin and interact with it thus differing from person to person. Our take on it? They’re just cool…

The Stuff

What and Where: Find it at

From the Luckyscent Website:

The Scoop

At The Beach is the exact recreation of a hot summer’s day spent lying in the sun and the scent of Coppertone, the sand and the surf filling your nose. For perfumer Christopher Brosius, this was a trip back to his summers on the North Atlantic (which we think must smell just like the Pacific.) An absolutely brilliant and faithful interpretation of classic Coppertone meets beach, there is no other perfume we’ve ever smelled that manages to capture a specific moment—long-ago summers on the beaches of America—as this one does. Even if you were landlocked and a pool was your beach, if you loved the smell of classic Coppertone tanning lotion, your jaw will hit the floor when you try this.

At The Beach 1966 Notes

Coppertone 1967, blended with a new accord Christopher created especially for this perfume, “North Atlantic.” Other notes: wet sand, seashell, driftwood and just a hint of boardwalk

Bespoke Life: Review- Creed Winsdor

Not sure if it qualifies as a summer-scent but it is great! I covered it here some time back when it was released by Creed as a special limited edition line of 300 flacons. The perfume “Windsor, created in 1936 for King Edward VIII of England from ingredients grown in the British Empire.”  So what does it smell like?

The Stuff

It starts off with a strong Juniper note (India) to a quite intense parsley aroma, a sort of green cleanness of English fern. With a bit more time that greenness begins to open up to a slight powderiness and a very small hint of tuberose (maybe) and bitter orange with that strong fern characteristic front and center. Smelling it on paper, performs quite differently on skin however.

TGG Classification: Evening Spring and summer / Sunny Fall

Suggested Use: Evening white party on a boat. The proverbial late evening outdoor dinner. A date.

Week 2 of use: I must say this fragrance has grown on me more and more as I continue to use it and what seemed to me, initially, as a very powedery white aldehyde scent has revealed to be completely different: I get green, lots of it, fern, willow, and juniper with hints of lime oil in the background. Very sophisticated and very, very nice…

5 Things of the Moment: Summer Flash-Forward

5 things to try this summer:

1- Madras:

The Look

Yes we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: try some Madras. Check out our post here about madras do’s and don’t but remember, start small—once you see how comfy and lightweight this material is it’ll become a favorite.

2- Deep-Tissue Massage:

The Spot

A massage helps circulation as well as soothes the body; plus it’s relaxing as hell. Forget the happy ending and with it seedy massage parlors; for the best spa/massage experience head to hotels. While recommending up-market hotels for spa may seem a bit contrived very few other places (independents especially) have the economies of scale, expertise,  not to mention supply-chains to be able to do the stuff right, and, if we may make yet another sweeping reference; the Asian hotels do it best: Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, The Standard, The Penninsula, The Four Seasons, GHM Hotels.

Take heed; most men are uncofortable with massages for avarious reasons; they think it’s too feminine (it’s not…); they don’t like people touching them (these are trained pro’s); or are afraid of arousal (which does happen, but… alas, these are trained pros- just apologize earnestly they’ll work, ahem, around the problem).

Here are some basic “spa” etiquette points. And although it goes without saying; “happy endings” are usually NOT in a spas repertoire of services.

3- The Aperitif: Aperol Spritzer

The Drink

Sounds dumb, but there’s nothing like a late-afternoon drink sometime between the beach and dinner. An aperitif is all about relaxing and taking it all in: the Parisians and Romans are masters at this. So, forget the beer, never mind the champagne and grab a classic Gin Fizz (gin, soda water, a squeeze of lemon/lime juice and a splash of sugar syrup or agave nectar) or something far more novel; an Aperol spritzer: glass, ice, a shot of Aperol liqueur (bitter orange flavor without the overbearing-ness of say Campari) soda water and an orange slice, forgo the umbrella.

4- Summer Wine:

The Wine

Forget the Sauvignon Blanc or (gasp) Pinot Girgio; while real men may wear Madras and fret over fragrance; they certainly do not order a Pinot Grigio with their dignity in tact (you do buy at home for wifey…). So here are a few things to try, order, and enjoy by a body of water, near sand, or on a hot day:

  1. Albarino (tried, tested, and true)
  2. Dry Rose (Provence Rose…)
  3. Anything from Alto Adige (Italy; north-east) that comes in white.
  4. Crisp Assyrtiko from Greece
  5. Vinho Verde from Portugal (if you’re paying more than 5USD for it forget it)
  6. Dry Riesling (i.e. not the sweet stuff in a blue bottle…)

5- Disconnect:

The Solution

Let go, leave the phone at home, turn off the computer, forget all about connectivity and try and make-belive like you live in a world without Facebook, tweeting, email, skype or IM. F$*k it all—even if its just one day a week; and while your at it; sit back in your cool madras shirt, sip on an aperol or dry rose and chill out while you contemplate a much needed massage and spend time with those you love. Cheers…

Smells like Summer: “In the Summer Kitchen” by CB I Hate Perfume

CB I Hate Perfume, yes this is the name of the perfume house, is another one of the perfume world’s badass non-conformists. Led by the indomitable Christopher Brosius (of Demeter Dirt and Snow fame)  CBIHP recalls the very personal smells of his memories; perfumes with a story to tell. Why does he “hate” perfume: “Perfume is too often an ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape.

These are not just individual scents in their own right (i.e. in the bottle) but because of Briosus’ unique water-based formula they linger on your skin and interact with it thus differing from person to person. Our take on it? They’re just cool…


The Stuff




What and Where: Find it at

From the Luckyscent Website:

The Scoop

In The Summer Kitchen is a scent very close to Christopher’s heart. His tiny country house was originally the summer kitchen on his family’s property, and no amount of remodeling could ever remove the scent that two centuries’ worth of cooking has imbued in the rafters. Fresh vegetables and herbs growing right outside the window scent the air, and it’s this feel that he infused In The Summer Kitchen with. It’s an extremely fresh and happy scent…very sweet, crisp orange and yellow vegetables rather than dark green or spicy, it’s clean and sunny rather than earthy. Light, refreshing and breezy, In The Summer Kitchen is super wearable and friendly, a lovely breeze of a scent that feels like the moment between morning and afternoon when the air is still cool and the sun is bright, beautiful and not quite scorching.

In The Summer Kitchen Notes

The scent of home: fresh garden vegetable and herbs on a clear summer evening with a touch of smoked old rafters.

Smell’s Like Summer: Le Labo’s “Fleur d’Oranger 27″

Smell’s Like Summer: Le Labo

In every discipline you have a quirky off the beaten path craftsmen that makes you learning about that discipline worth wile. Perfumery is no difference; it has its bad boys (Eccentric Molecules); it’s sacred cows (Chanel); it’s poets (Hermes) and it’s baddasses; like Le Labo.

“Our scents are extremely qualitative compositions created by some of the best perfumers in the world. The dosage of each scent is an integral part of the perfume’s identity. “

Le Labo produces a handful of scents mad by some of the world’s most renowned Noses (master perfumers), some, unique to each city where they have a location; handcrafted and made of natural ingredients. Le Labo hides true mastery and experience behind it’s attitudinal veneer.

The Goods

With them, it’s all about what inside the bottle; which may seem obvious but perfumery is a discipline where much more time, effort and money goes into the actual bottle design not the stuff inside. This right here let’s you know the elixir hidden inside these lab-sample styled bottles is going to be great—Like a 3 star Michelin chef at a barbecue shack.

This is the quintessential “when-in-doubt” type of things, like Sauvignon Blanc or Italian food; I’m talking about Le Labo’s “Fleur d’Oranger 27” and I will let them describe it:

A natural and extremely rare Orange Blossom that took over 3 years to compose. Its innate nobility is enhanced by fresh floral and lemony notes, rounded out by musk and the succulent, sunny touches of bergamot, petit grain and lemon. This Orange Blossom has an intensity and delicious ambiguity that gives women – and men – the absolute power of sensuality

This perfume was created for Le Labo by Françoise Caron who has made a handful of other very famous perfumes for houses like Aqua di Parma, Ungaor, Kenzo, and Comme de Garçons.

This stuff is sexy, with a capital “X”- not as round and ethereal as the Aqua di Sicilia; Fleur d’Orange delivers a wafy lightness and dearth that is addictive. I take it back- wear it anywhere you want! Oh, and they put your name on the bottle label! (buy here)

TGG Classification: Spring/Summer (also try Vetiver 46)

Recommended for: Sunsets, pretty girls, luaus, drinks, the beach.

Smell’s Like Summer 2010: Santa Maria Novella “Aqua di Sicilia”

The House

The bright sun has only recently arrived in the Adriatic Coast—months of putrid, cloudy and rainy cold has given way to a piquant sun that makes it quite evident why Montenegro’s coast has become the stuff of legends lately and an up-and-coming destination for the jet set  (don’t hold your breath on the food or awkward Slavic-hospitlaity however).

But as soon as I saw the first warm day and bright sun I though about a cologne I had smelled once upon a time on a trip to Milan. I was sitting in a Café, having a gin and tonic in the heat of summer when a young woman asked me if she could borrow my ashtray, as she came in to whisk it away I caught a very faint whiff of an aroma that reminded me of the bright orange orchards I smelled in my youth growing up in South Florida.

The smell was sweet but fresh and made me close me eyes for a moment while a very faint woody aroma perked me out of my trance to ask her what perfume she was wearing. She laughed “…Oh it’s not mine, it’s some guy’s I met last night…” she said with a matter-of-fact chuckle and then turned back to her girlfriends on the adjacent table. I was stunned.

Back in New York I popped into a department store on a mission to find this perfume. I found the perfume lady and all I had to say was “magical mandarin, oranges and…” but before I could finish she pulled out a flacon of Santa Maria Novella “Aqua di Sicilia.”

The Stuff

Santa Maria Novella has a great story that a romantic like me adores;

Established by the Dominican Fathers shortly after 1221, Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldes pharmacies in the world. Starting out with cultivating and growing herbs which they needed to prepare medications, balms and creams for the monastery’s little infirmary. In 1612 when their products gained renowny even in foreign countries, it was decided that the pharmacy should be opened to the public. In the 18th century, thanks to the efficacy of the many formulas used, the fame of the pharmacy spread as far as Russia, the Indies and distant China. Subsequent to the Italian government’s confiscation of church property, in 1866 the activity passed into the hands of the state, which rented it out to Cesare Augusto Sefani, nephew of the last Dominican director of the Officina. Stefani aquired the name and the property, and since then four generations of the same family have owned and managed the Officina Farmaceutica. Presently under the direction of Eugenio Alphandery, the tradition is being carried on with unaltered success. Production is limited and is meticulously controlled. Only the highest quality natural ingrediens are used, and the procedures continue the founding father’s tradition. Every product of the Officina has a story to tell.

(from the Aedes de Venustas website)

but it’s the smell of sweet sun-drenched mandarins, orange blossom, a hint of lemon, spice and cypress that wooed me over. The price is steep, but worth it. (Buy it here)

TGG Classification: Summer and early fall.

Recommended Uses: Everywhere, all the time, even in bed.

Smell’s Like Summer 2010: Caron

Recently I was in Paris when my friend insisted on going into the overly Baroque store of Caron near the President’s House on the gilded Rue St. Honore. Once inside I felt like I was in an Alice in Wonderland rendition of Louis XV’s dressing room; baroque, gaudy, bizarre, and full of perfume. I immediately parked myself in front of the men’s colognes and began smelling away; one caught my attention immediately and it was simply called called “Pour Homme Cologne” (for those Franco-challenged it just means “for men”).

The Place

Master perfumer and perfume legend Ernest Daltroff (1867-1941) founded the house of Caron and between 1911-1939 created a handful of scents which are part of the annals of perfume history; a venerable hall of fame you can smell. In 1934 Monsieru Daltroff concocted my new favorite: “Pour un homme”

Caron’s website claims that this thoroughly masculine scent is laden with amber, musk, tonka beans (black kidney-bean shaped little, well beans, that smell like vanilla and sweet hay), lavender etc. I tried and smelled this perfume on my hand and on a smell-strip and it reminded me of only one thing (and it’s why I loved it): a gin and tonic. They describe it as “floral” I disagree, unless what they put in the bottle at the store was different; but, after all, who doesn’t like the smell of gin and tonic (those who like neither gin or tonic ignore).

The fantastic Basenotes website ( breaks it down for us identifying some of the components as lemon, rosemary, cedar, sage, and moss amongst others. It’s good stuff!

Great summer scent, fresh, green, clean with loads of juniper, hay, lavender, very nice!

Gin and Tonic you can wear

TGG Classification: Summer afternoons and evenings; spring days.

Recommended uses: vacation, cocktail time and happy hours. A picnic or a summer BBQ with the  pool nearby.

(buy it here)