I'm having way too much fun riding out the heatwave researching old forumlary on the internet in search of cologne and toilet water recipes. After years of collecting fragrant herbs, dried flowers, roots, powdered gums, tree resins, barks, citrus rinds and spices I wanted to see if macerating in vodka would produce results. All of the old recipes I found used essential oils, absolutes and tinctures but I wanted to see what I could come up with with just the raw ingredients.
I've started two traditional cologne recipes, a violet water, something akin to 4711 and a Florida Water, as well as one true experiment. It's been about ten days and I can already tell which ones have promise and staying power. My plan is to let them sit for 30 days and then strain them off, filter them and let them settle. Then I'll pour off the clear liquor and blend it with hydrosol
When deciding on what to use for each experiment I'm still thinking like a perfumer and making sure I have top, middle and bottom notes. I've been aging some orris root powder for a number of years now and it's developing a subtle sweetness that I hope the tincuring will release. I also have powdered benzoin, cedar bark, vanilla pods and vetiver roots to play with. Dried roses and lavender make up the bulk of the heart note but I'm also using a generous supply of jasmine sambac flowers that I've dried over the past year. The linden blossoms that I collected last year have found their way into one as well. For top notes I have citrus rinds that I dried over last winter including mineola tangerine and meyer lemon. From my herb garden I've added sweet woodruff, lemon verbena, lavender, basil, sweet annie and rosemary.
So far I'm loving the process and the romance of it all. When I was a child my grandmother bought me some cologne that I used as a kind of splash. I have such fond memories of warm summer nights splashing on her cologne after a bath and going to sleep smelling sweetly.
I'm also enjoying using the fruits of my labor over the years, and feeling like a real apothecary. I looked around during the process and thought that it looked like a film set of an apothecary at work, yet it wasn't contrived at all. I find I'm repeating to myself, "oh, true apothecary".