Smell Like Liquor (In A Good Way)

C.O. Bigelow Bay Rum
Malin+Goetz Dark Rum
Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm
Fresh Sake
Fresh Citron de Vigne
TokyoMilk Gin and Rosewater
Bond No. 9 Brooklyn
Demeter Gin & Tonic
Seth Kornegay Petra
Noble Isle Whiskey & Water Hand Wash

Liquor-based perfumes have been around since forever (well ok, actually like 1370), but in the last couple of years perfumers have gotten crunked (to use the technical term) on spirit-derived accords. At this point, there are more whiskey, rum, and gin-soaked scents than you can shake a mostly empty bottle of SoCo Lime at. But what's not to love about smelling like a rye Manhattan without dousing yourself in maraschino juice? Plus, unless you're in the Southern Hemisphere, it's dark and windy and there's no new House of Cards for months. Long story short, we could all use a little nonalcoholic (at least the type not intended for consumption) boozy cheer. So let's take a look at some 'fumes that are perfect for a wintertime pick-me-up:

Rum accords are great because they're light enough not to piss off the people around you, but still intoxicatingly (not literally) sweet and spicy. There's always Bay Rum if you want to get down and I-have-actually-visited-a-Margaritaville-restaurant-voluntarily dirty. But what you really need is Malin+Goetz Dark Rum; it smells like a tipsy pirate with a peg leg made of heritage-blended beeswax and gingersnaps. In a word: AMAZING. And while we're talking sexy drunks (Did we just stereotype pirates?), M+G's equally excellent Mojito Lip Balm is perhaps the most responsible way to employ that I-just-took-a-shot flirtatiously breathy whisper should you happen to sloppily make out with said pirate in the back of your high school Jetta while home visiting your parents for the holidays.

When it comes to scents that a person can actually stand wearing in winter while simultaneously suffocating under six scarves and a puffer coat (because the ideal NYC winter ensemble is like a warm, softly-scented pillow fort of death), Fresh Sake is almost certainly your best bet. It's a little fruity and dry—a lot like creamy Nigori—and the fragrance lingers longer than most. If you're into wine but prefer yours all grape-y, Fresh also makes a lovely champagne spray, Citron de Vigne, that smells just like sparkling white-wine sangria.

If country music has taught us anything, it's that Jose Cuervo is generally a kind, thoughtful friend, who sometimes accidentally makes your clothes fall off. Demeter Frozen Margarita smells pretty damn delicious, with minimal nudity risks. (Break out your preferred salt scrub for full effect.) Then there's Bond No. 9 Coney Island, which takes the tequila scent to a sophisticated, adult place that those who can tell types of mezcal apart and refuse to drink anything but añejo will probably appreciate. Ugh, adults.

So many people hate gin, but... martinis! In the absence of any in-depth discussion with its opponents, our working theory is that people don't really hate gin; they just hate the idea of gin (Blame that douchey Tanqueray guy). Even if you can't stand the stuff, give gin fragrances a chance. Gin and roses sounds like a delicious, accessible combination, no? They definitely smell great together in TokyoMilk Gin and Rosewater. The secret to making a great gin scent seems to be adding juniper berries and citrus—they're key notes in a bunch of the best formulas, from TokyoMilk to Bond No. 9 Brooklyn. (For the aesthetes, there's also Byredo Mister Marvelous, a juniper-y concoction inspired by hair legend Christiaan Houtenbos.)

Whiskey is a pretty pungent liquor, so it's impressive when someone manages to wrangle it into a well-behaved perfume like Seth Kornegay Petra, which smells like a Maker's and bitters on the rocks. If that's a little much, try Noble Isle Whiskey & Water Hand Wash—it smells alcoholic in a bracing, clean way and foams really nicely, too.

And remember: Spritz responsibly.

—Lacey Gattis

Photos by Mathea Millman.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Jane S

    How could you miss my new favorite boozy scent--Atelier Cologne's Gold Leather? Sooo good! In fact, you kids need to check out their very cool shop in NoLIta where the main man is like a sommelier of scent! Plus the personalized leather covered travel bottles are irresistible. And for hangover brunch the next day, spritz on their blood orange scent.

    • ITGLacey

      Jane, are soulmate?

      I am sitting here staring at my bottle of Atelier Orange Sanguine, which has been my signature for years. Every time I put it on I'm still amazed that they were able to re-create fresh-squeezed orange juice (also love to layer it with Vanille Insensee for a fancy creamsicle accord).

      And this is gonna sound super weird, but... are you talking about Ross at the NoLita boutique? Because I am officially declaring my love for that man (ROSS, if you're reading this let's just get married, ok?).

      Also, to address your actual point, Gold Leather is so good, I agree. It's the most wearable, sheer oud I've ever smelled—I cannot believe I forgot it, uggggggh.

      • Jane S

        Yes, Ross is THE nosy man in the best sense/scents (pun intended). I bought Orange Sanguine in Paris at the marvelous store Nose, where you complete your scent biography before so much as whiffing a test strip. Thought I'd found a unique, " only available in Paris" scent until I got back and saw it in Sephora. Stumbling upon the shop in NoLIta and Ross helped sooth my ego. He introduced me to Ambre Nue, which is really good for cold weather. We may have to arm wrestle over him!

  • lygie

    love the Malin+Goetz Dark Rum fragrance. completely addicting. i am wearing the perfume oil right now.

    • ITGLacey

      YES. I just keep putting more on. I sit next to Michael & I think he's starting to get concerned...

  • Katy

    I don't get the gin hate. All of my best nights have been gin nights!

  • Harlowrose

    I'm a big fan of rum anything.

  • Christine Stevens

    LACEY! My heart soared when I read the title of this article, as I was taken back to my high school days of "Tipsy" being one of the hottest jams in '04. I had a feeling that you would be the author and I was so happy that I was right!

    I had never thought about trying out boozy scents before this article, but you've made them sound very appealing (all while making me chuckle, too).

    I always look forward to reading your articles - they're my fave - and can't wait for your next one!

    • ITGLacey

      Christine, you are the sweetest ever! Thank you so much for reading, commenting & being a total doll in general!!!

  • Gigi R

    I want a sexy drunk pirate now, hilarious! Also love gin, the G&Ts are getting me through an Australian summer - it's currently 38 Celsius :/

  • capriciouscat

    Don't forget Angelique Sous la Pluie by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle! It is pretty much a gin and tonic in a perfume.


Malin + Goetz
Dark Rum
MALIN+GOETZ mojito lip balm
Fresh 'Sake' Eau de Parfum (1 oz.)
Fresh 'Citron de Vigne' Eau de Parfum
Bond No. 9
Bond No. 9 New York 'Coney Island' Eau de Parfum 3.3 oz
Bond No. 9
Bond No. 9 New York 'Brooklyn' Fragrance 3.3 oz
Whiskey & Water Hand Wash
Byredo Parfums
Byredo Mister Marvelous