Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jean Patou Cocktail

From Wikipedia: "Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else." --May 13, 1806 edition of the Balance and Columbian Repository, a publication in Hudson, New York

The earliest use of the word "cocktail" dates back to the early 1800s. By the turn of the 20th century, New York City hotels had gone from serving the English custom of 5 o'clock tea to the 5 o'clock cocktail hour. Perhaps cocktails and New York go together like sugared water and bitters. In 1930, during Prohibition in the United States, Jean Patou created a perfume called Cocktail. Long story short: Jean Patou's target clientele had been the wealthy Americans who would vacation in the ritziest hangouts in Europe during the height of Jean Patou's popularity in the 1920s and 30s. He had a cocktail bar to cater to his clientele--precisely, for the husbands to enjoy while the wives took to shopping at the boutique--which he converted into a perfume bar in 1930. The house launched Cocktail, the perfume, then, a set of fragrances following Cocktail called Dry, Sweet and Bittersweet, which could be mixed according to the perfume wearer's taste.

My review tonight is just for the original Cocktail (1930) which I recently got a miniature of in eau de toilette. I know I've tried it before but it didn't leave much of an impression on me then. I'm so glad I have the chance to try it again because now it's one of my very favorite scents in the Jean Patou line, and it's rare. I don't believe only the best perfumes live on while the lesser ones get discontinued; sometimes, great perfumes are discontinued if there aren't enough people to appreciate them, pushing them into obscurity, then, inevitably, discontinuation. Cocktail, while it shares with Jean Patou's bestseller, Joy, the classic Jean Patou heart of jasmine and rose, it exudes a different kind of glamorous sophistication--one I would call dry, almost masculine, with a unique, herbaceous (lavender) top note over a streamlined and slightly bold, woody Fruity Chypre composition. It has a boozy appeal, too, like vermouth or sherry.

If I could cross Joy with Moment Supreme and cross it yet again with Yves Saint-Laurent Y but took away some of the sharp-green sparkly razzle-dazzle, made it just a bit subdued (fruity) and earthy (dark), maybe leaning towards Jean Patou 1000 but not so voluptuous and heavy, still effervescent and cool, I might have Cocktail. The dry down turns sweet and floral, with a musty-mossy aftersmell like I find in Que Sais-Je?, Amour Amour and others in the Ma Collection scents (but not as bad--I can actually wear Cocktail). I probably couldn't wear it on a regular basis (and it's discontinued, anyway), but what a stunning potion this is. It smells like one part sexy and one part heartbreak. All the while, it drips of pearls and gold. Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" wore Cocktail, I am sure.