Thursday, May 9, 2013

Perfume Organs

A perfume organ is how a perfumer organizes her fragrant materials. separating the oils between top, middle and bottom.

I've recently revamped my organ, creating a new inventory and labeling everything more clearly.  In the process I researched and looked at photos of many organs for inspiration.  Considering the limited space of a New York apartment I'm very happy with mine but desperately wish for a larger and more expansive version.

I've had the great privilege of taking courses with the fabulously talented Mandy Aftel and creating perfumes from her fantastic scent organ.  Where I might have a mere 1/8 of an ounce of a rare and precious oil, Mandy has a large ground glass stoppered bottle full!  It's really something to aspire to.

I also fell in love with a few other images of perfume organs that I found online.  Some are more extensive with room for lots of perfume ingredients.  Others are more up my alley, making do with a small space - and having to be creative in how the space is used.  I love the images and long for room to grow and create.  In the meantime I'm happy with my collection, it's where I create new formulas and do consultations with clients, enabling them to create their own custom perfume.  It's my happy place.

I particularly like this creative use of space

This is a photo I took of the organ at the Fragonard Museum in Paris.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bitters Experiment

After macerating for over six weeks I finally decanted my bitters and have been enjoying them in seltzer and cocktails.  I recently had a delicious Manhattan using Woodland Bitters, the brew adding a woodsy complexity to the libation.  I think the Cherry Hazelnut are my favorite and I look forward to another Manhattan using it.

Cherry Hazelnut Bitters

1/2 cup lightly toasted and skinned hazelnuts
1/2 cup dried tart or sour cherries
2 tablespoons devil's club root
1/2 teaspoon schizandra berries
1/2 teaspoon wild cherry bark
1/2 teaspoon cinchona bark
1/2 teaspoon cassia chips
1/4 teaspoon chopped dried orange peel
3 star anise
2 cups 101-proof bourbon, or more as needed

Macerate six weeks and decant.   The original recipe (taken from Brad Thomas Parsons wonderful book, "Bitters") suggests decanting after two weeks and retaining the solids to be boiled in one cup of water over high heat and returning the filtered water into the original brew.  He also suggests adding 2 tablespoons of rich syrup.  I found these extra steps tedious so just left it to macerate longer and I'm quite happy with the results.