Lagniappe: In Search of a Scent, Part I
In New Orleans, lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) is the thirteenth doughnut given by a baker when you buy a dozen. In Big Easy slang, it’s come to refer to something that’s a “little extra” and given for free. The Gentleman is pleased to introduce a new re-occurring column, Lagniappe, where I’ll talk about things that are not exactly about clothes, but related to living a stylish, gentlemanly life on a budget.
One of the major holes in this Gentleman’s wardrobe is cologne. I’ve always been fascinated by fragrances. I find a good perfume irresistibly sexy on a lady, and I’ve long wanted to find a scent that I could adopt as my own. For awhile I, embarrassingly, used an Abercrombie cologne, but it smelled far too much like a frat house. After that, I turned to a cologne made by Banana Republic that was solid, though not exactly the smell that I was going for. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, except that I wanted it to be subtle, clean and fresh-smelling.
Last summer, one of my friends in the Air Force mentioned that he had been using bay rum. He really enjoyed the scent, so I decided to investigate. Bay rum is a traditional, all-natural cologne made from exactly what it sounds like: bay leaves and rum. The blend originated in the Caribbean in the 19th century and was a standard in barbershops in both America and England. This old fashioned rum/bay leaf distillation has a sort of sun-soaked exoticism that I immediately enjoyed.
For my first foray into the world of bay rum, I purchased two bottles, an original Dominica Bay Rum from the J. Peterman catalog and a bottle of Royall Lyme, a lime scented bay rum from Brooks Brothers. Dominica and Royall have a reputation for being the best and most traditional of the bay rums on the market today.
The first thing I noticed about bay rum is how subtle it is. You really have to be quite close to the person wearing the fragrance to detect it. To me, that’s the mark of a good cologne. It shouldn’t be overpowering and oppressive. It should be subtle so that just people close to you can detect it. Both of the bay rums are also extremely natural and fresh-smelling. The original mixture by Dominica has a spicier aroma, while Royall Lyme is crisper, as you might expect from a fragrance infused with citrus. Since both fragrances are so discrete, they tend to wear off as the day goes on. For that reason, if you put it on in the morning, I’d recommend a second spray to refresh it in the evening before going out.
Dominica Bay Rum is sold from a variety of retailers both online and elsewhere. I got it from the whimsically old-fashioned J. Peterman catalog for $18. The Royall Lyme was a bit more expensive at $40 from Brooks Brothers. The Brooks website does not seem to have Lime in stock right now (though it does have Royall’s other scents). The official website of Royall does, however, have it in stock.
Photo Credit: jpeterman.com
While I don’t think my search for the perfect fragrance is over, I’ve been pleased with my bay rum so far and think that I will continue using these two products to add a little zest to my day.
Next week, The Gentleman will begin unraveling the mysteries of the tie-knot.