Have you ever thought about the link between the senses of smell and taste? This strong connection has promoted a trend that is picking up and has definitively stolen our heart, this is the collaboration between fragrance houses and cocktail bars to produce perfume-inspired cocktails.
Perfumes are made up of top, mid and base notes, while cocktails are also made up of different parts – typically a base, a modifying agent, and special flavoring or coloring agents. This coincidence enables mixologists to translate a perfume’s key notes by selecting the appropriate ingredients.
Today, we want to share with you the bars Worldwide that are leading the trend:
Fragrances (Berlin): Here “you’ll drink what you smell”, says Joscha Heese, the bartender responsible for the very first perfume-inspired cocktail bar located in the exclusive Ritz Carlton Hotel in Berlin.
About 10 years back, Heissen worked in a Japanese bar where most of the spirits he worked with were unfamiliar to guests, as were many of the exotic ingredients he mixed with them. After many trials with a series of non-traditional recipes, he realized that most of the ingredients he loved working with were all ingredients that come from the perfume industry.
One perfume in particular, Jicky by Guerlain, the oldest continuously produced perfume in the world, inspired him to deconstruct its ingredients. The result was a cocktail made with bergamot, vanilla, lavender, rosemary, and lemon. And when he showed guests the perfume and how the drink tasted, they were simply fascinated!
Gradually Heissen began introducing more perfume-inspired cocktails into his repertoire until someone eventually told him, “Your menu is actually a perfume list.” The concept, which began as a pushcart display of perfumes bartenders wheeled around the lobby bar in the Ritz-Carlton Berlin, finally took shape as Fragrances in 2014.
Green Bar (London): London’s Hotel Café Royal collaborated with Parfums Givenchy in 2016 to launch ten exclusive, limited-edition cocktails celebrating the fine perfumes of the maison’s Atelier, the brand’s haute perfume collection, and in particular the newest addition to the line, Iris Harmonique. The hotel’s Green Bar and Givenchy worked hand-in-hand in the creation of the cocktails, the result? an interpretation of the perfumes’ distinct key notes blended with the bar’s longstanding focus on botanical ingredients. Each cocktail in the collection was unique. For example, the floral, refreshing Iris Harmonique contains coconut-infused Ketel One Vodka, kumquat liqueur, and lemon zest. The fragrances were also kept behind the bar, so that customers could experience them before selecting their cocktail.
Zuma (Hong Kong): Last year, contemporary Japanese-inspired bar and restaurant Zuma, well-known for its innovative cocktails, collaborated with luxury London perfumer Penhaligon‘s to promote its Portraits series of fragrances.
Each fragrance in the Portraits series is characterized by a different member from a fictional noble family comprised of four characters – Lord George, Lady Blanche, The Duke, and Duchess Rose – and Zuma translated each of the scents into drinkable flavors. In Lord George, for example, the original fragrance has scents of shaving soap, cigar, and whisky, representing the stately patriarch of the family. The cocktail itself utilises sakura-infused plantation dark rum, Nikka Coffey Grain, umeshu, tonka beans, and ambrox to create a masculine-tasting drink. Each cocktail was also served with the perfect take-home treat – a sample of the perfume.
Tippling Club (Singapore): Lauded Singapore cocktail bar and restaurant Tippling Club also partnered with Penhaligon’s, with their first collaboration dating back to 2011. The Juniper Sling cocktail, a delightfully fruity concoction of Grand Marnier, gin, cassis, homemade cherry bitters, juniper, and cinnamon syrup, was inspired by the fragrance of the same name, and even comes served in a Penhaligon bottle placed in a Penhaligon box. In 2015, the envelope-pushing bar released another cocktail based on Penhaligon’s Sartorial, a more masculine fragrance and an apt counterpart to contrast the Juniper Sling. To replicate the perfume, honey-infused whisky, orange peel, cloves, and black tea are used. Unfortunately, both cocktails are no longer on the menu, but customers can still have fun with scents in their current cocktail menu, named Sensorium. A collaboration with International Flavours and Fragrances Inc (IFF), a company that innovates sensorial experiences, customers are encouraged to relieve cherished childhood memories through the medium of aroma by selecting their cocktail based on a scent that they can most relate to.
Now, all we have to say is… Let your sense of smell determine your favorite cocktail! Because… If you love to smell it, you’ll certainly love drinking it.