My own father used to say that his favourite smell in all the wide world was that of jugged hare, on the high side*, with fried stuffing balls and red currant jelly on the side. In a rather more orthodox manner he loved the scent, sight, taste, touch & effect of gin and tonic. And this is how he preferred it to be prepared:
One would take a heavy cut glass tumbler and place it in the fridge to chill and frost an hour or so before serving. This would then be crammed to the top with ice cubes: much as he loved and relied on the gin (apart from 40 days’ regular abstinence during Lent), my father preferred to drink nothing at all rather than liquor without the ice – “lukewarm! Take it away!”. Woe betide him who had forgotten to refill the ice trays. I’d then pour about three fingers of Gordon’s or Beefeater over the ice and tuck slices of lemon down the sides of the glass. These he liked to chew as he drank. Occasionally one might add a sprig of fresh mint from the garden. Angostura bitters were applied liberally to turn the gin blood-red rather than pink, while a dash of Schweppes tonic water (on no account the Slimline version – “take it back!”) provided sparkle. (And of course aerated waters get the alcohol into the system quicker). We always had a case of tonic to hand as Pa required a fresh bottle every time, having a horror of it being served flat. He’d have maybe three of these restoratives nightly before supper, and each one had to be served perfectly else there would be ructions. His enjoyment was derived almost as much from the aesthetics as from the undoubted alcoholic stimulation: “look at that Beautiful Drink…..!!”
Many perfumers have paid homage to the great G & T, whether intentionally or not: from Lubin’s self-evident Gin Fizz to Annick Goutal’s classic citrus Eau d’Hadrien which always used to provoke drinks trolley comparisons. Atelier Cologne’s stunning CEDRAT ENIVRANT at Les Senteurs has the exhilarating kick of the fabulous WW1 ‘French 75’ champagne & gin knock-out; while EAU DE CAMELIA CHINOIS breathes a green icy chill from its leafy tea-scented depths. Check out Frederic Malle’s BIGARADE CONCENTREE, too, for a wild high of iced bitter orange, cedar and cardamom, glittering with freshness.
Fascinating and inventive, THE SEXIEST SCENT ON THE PLANET was inspired by the ineffable Sarah McCartney’s smelling of the ten botanicals in Bombay Sapphire – and then creating a perfume with her favourites. SEXIEST SCENT, Sarah confides, is “smooth citrus, soft woods, a little spiciness and a dash of vanilla. It’s not designed to smell like gin, just to blend well with it – the ultimate mixer”. It stirs up emotions as well as taste buds, that’s for sure.
My father’s optimum scent, chosen by his doting son, was GRAIN DE PLAISIR – that extraordinary sweet and spicy woody fragrance which incorporates patchouli, amber, oud, lemon cedar and mint with a unique kick derived from the dry pungency of celery seed, regarded for centuries as one of nature’s most powerful aphrodisiacs. As with many great fragrances, less is more – a drop is all you need for a long slow glowing realisation and a powerful sillage which enfolds you like a flame coloured cashmere scarf. To me there is a hint of barley sugar about it with a faint suggestion of coffee beans: but I have just shown a bottle to a customer who detected the delicious odour of freshly made Pimms, brought out to the lawn in the shade of the cedars of Lebanon. Dad had a great love affair with the Pimms jug of which he amassed something of a collection, so maybe he too caught this subliminal association.
Perfume is in origin a male accessory being worn millennia ago by the god-kings of the ancient civilisations. Perfume was the route to Heaven, burned to please the nostrils of the gods and to call their attention to their worshippers here below. From this use it was a short step to wearing scent as the ruler incarnated the divine in his own society. So there can be no more appropriate gift on Father’s Day to honour the head of your own family and to celebrate his unique role in your life and origins. Younger dads have grown up in an era which has seen a much broader, sophisticated and detailed approach to the wearing and appreciation of fragrance; those of a more mature generation will be intrigued and fascinated by the vast scope of modern perfumery. Select a scent which reflects your parent’s personality and lifestyle with – should you require it – our expert help and guidance. Offer a Les Senteurs Voucher or a Private Consultation for the gentleman to explore our shelves in person, with all his questions answered. My papa was over sixty when he first became bewitched by scent and perhaps he was inclined to overdo the application, spraying and rubbing it very liberally and enthusiastically over his head and neck with great zest and vigour, just as he behaved in most areas of life. He enjoyed making his presence felt. Perfume is a delight at any age and opening a new bottle is as festive as popping champagne. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all our readers!
* he would hang the hare in the coal house for as long as allowed – ergo, until there were protests.