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.
Photos by Mathea Millman.