Geranium & Chocolate OOAK + Contest

Geranium & Chocolate  by Ayala Moriel
Geranium & Chocolate , a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Google haven't even had the chance to properly index the Geranium & Chocolate page, and this latest addition to my OOAK offerings in the new EDP format was already adopted by a lady who wanted to call this perfume her own. I'm thrilled that my OOAK perfume creations are so warmly received and enthusiastically adopted by my customers. Creating these perfumes is a lot of fun, and they are ones that turned out fun and fantastic as part of my explorations in the lab - but I can't just release any perfume that comes out of my hand as a new perfume. My perfume collection is already too large as it is!

Geranium & Chocolate came about when I stumbled upon geranium absolute for the first time. It has such a delicious, fresh yet well-rounded, deep wine-like quality. It just reminded me over all of a very fruity, sweet and refreshing sangria or warm red wine, which of course is even better paired with some chocolate... It also has some musk notes and citrus notes and is at the same time fresh-citrusy and gourmand. It will be shipped this afternoon to Virginia, where summer is in full blast and its refreshing qualities will be actually needed...

And I'm off to my next adventure in the lab, working up some new ideas, some of which will most likely turn into more OOAK offerings. I'm on a bit of a chocolate kick at the moment, and am curious to see how chocolate and ambergris will go together after using ambergris in my yummy truffles in my Orcas tea party on Sunday; and I'm also curious about incense and chocolate together - two of my daily rituals of self-spoilage that simply make me a happy woman...

Have you got a OOAK perfume that you're dreaming about? A scent combination you wish existed out there but is still only in your imagination? Post a comment and enter to win a mini bottle of Coralle. Contest will close on Friday, July 29th.

Sephora in Vancouver

New Sephora, originally uploaded by Elsbro.

New Sephora, originally uploaded by Elsbro.

The long-awaited Sephora launch in downtown Vancouver brought a few good things to the city: in anticipation for the arrival of a new competitor, Holt Renfrew added Holtscents – an expanded fragrance division with many niche brands, including Editions de Parfums, Miller Harris, Bon No. 9, Juliette Has A Gun, Miller et Bertaux, Ineke, and several others. Some vanished after a while due to lack of demand (By Killian and Etat Libre d’Orange) but we can only hope the others will stick around and keep our dull Vancouver life interesting. Shoppers Drug Mart took a similar approach and expanded their fragrance and cosmetics tremendously – carrying brands that used to be only found in luxe department stores – Prada, Guerlain, Clinique, BeneFit Cosmetics, Comptoir Sud Pacifique and others.

And now the cat is out of the bag and Sephora is open for about a month. Vancouverite teenagers and girls in their early 20’s seem to not have gotten enough of it yet. I was there for the first time exactly on Jly 17th, exactly one week after the opening (July 10th)
around 2pm on a Friday, taking a detour on the way to pick up printed labeling for the Tropical Flower & Spice Limited Editions for the tea party that weekend.

It was a very hot day and I sought refuge in the mall’s lavishly air-conditioned space. The first thing that crossed my mind was: don’t anyone have a job anymore? Because clearly, everyone and their two girlfriends seemed to be at Sephora trying out new makeup. The downside was that the store was packed to say the least ( but that was nothing comparing to the opening day which I promptly skipped, being the crowd-avoider expert that I am). Apparently 7,452 is not enough to host all of Vancouver’s beauty junkies. The up side, of course, was that I was able to roam freely in the shop without anyone offering to “help” and asking me boring questions about my fragrance preferences.

I scouted everything that is new and unusual and can’t be found anywhere else in the city, and as far as fragrance goes I was not quite blown away. There was the Tweety bird perfume, with a promptly yellow atomizer bulb that turns the otherwise classy vintage-style perfume spritzing into a deja-vu squawking a rubber-duck in the bath-tub when you had to babysit your little siblings (by which point, commenting about the scent seems futile). On the other hand – I spotted some rather fantastic size for Fracas – a 7.5ml roll-on which if only for the long line ups would have landed in my purse later that afternoon.

Scent-wise, my sniffer was impressed with several things: Cannabis Santal – a strange mélange of woods, patchouli and chocolate that is not in the least as doobie as the name implies; rather, it reminded me of a cross between an Hermes masculine (Either Vetiver Tonka, Poivre Samarkand or Terre d’Hermes) with an overdoes of chocolate. I also found Cannabis Rose, which I had to try because one of my classmates in Grasse raved about it and it was created by a young perfumer at Robertet. Cannabis Rose smelled like the new generation of Chypre – with patchouli, vetiver and musk as the base and a warm and clean rose heart – but not quite spicy or rosy. I tried the body cream of that and it was overbearing though and will have to try it on skin at a later time. As an aside - Fresh can be found both at Holt Renfrew and Beautymark but neither of them carry the entire line, and neither of these two scents, to the best of my knowledge.

And last but not least – it was a very nice surprise to find Demeter Vintage Naturals 2009 limited edition collection of 5 soliflores that are all-naturals: Lavender, Rosebush, Patchouli, Geranium and Mimosa. The latter captured my attention immediately. Geranium has been my obsession in the past year or so, and it was refreshing to see it treated as the main theme. This geranium is extremely leafy and fresh. It starts herbaceous and minty and dries down into a more earthy base, and geranium is always at the forefront – no surprises there. Mimosa opens with a dominant mimosa absolute note, which is a top note so it does not stick around for too long. Than it morphs into a complex, rich white florals – with ylang ylang, jasmine and powdery tonka bean whispering sweet nothings in your ears till you are completely seduced. It has an incredible lasting power. I am yet to try the other three but so far I have to say I’m very impressed with this mass-produced natural perfume, and the price is very reasonable at $75 a pop (50ml EDP spray).

And the other evening, I stepped in again, and although the store was not as busy as before, the lineups were intimidating. For the first time I got noticed by a sales rep which I gently refused. Fortunately, I had Tamya with me so I got to try the Geranium and the Mimosa again and also tried Fresh’s “Strawberry” (so not!) on Tamya’s one wrist, and BeneFit’s whimsically martini-shaker packaged “Something About Sofia” from their new Crescent Row collection (lilies and some fresh tart fruit – perhaps apple and lychee?) on the other. Incidentally, "Something About Sofia" was what was suggested to me after completing BeneFit's quiz. Also, if they had a quiz to find out how much of a sucker for a cute bottle you are I would probably lead with at least 99% and buy the bottle on the spot. As it turned out, I was impressed by neither but I learned a new shopping tip: take your kids with you and use them as living scent strips. It would save you money.

Geranium-Lychee Iced Tea

As promised, my recipe for a most refreshing and exotic iced tea that will help you cool off in this unusual heat wave that swept British Columbia this July. We consider anything above 10 celsius is "beautiful day" and anything around room temperature as "hot". So you can imagine we are not quite set up for 30 celsius and over (today is expected to go as high as 32!).
Using a high quality tea is key to the success of this tea. I prefer to use Inner Alchemy's Moonbeam Glory, which is quite fancy and a beautiful tea on its own rights; besides the delicious lychee, it also has dried wild blueberries in it and natural flavour of black currants, wild blueberries and blackberries. But if you can also use a high quality rose or lychee congou (it is not easy to come across the real thing but well worth the search).

2 tsp. Lychee or Rose Congou
1 Liter boiling water
3 tsp. sugar (optional)
1 Liter lychee juice (I use Dewlands' Litchi juice, which is sweetened only with white grape juice and is yummy!)
2 Freshly picked pelargonium (geranium) leaves. Rose geranium or lemon-scented geranium is the best

Bring water to a boil. Steep the tea leaves for 5 minutes. Sweeten with sugar if desired and bring to room temperature. Add the lytchee juice. Rub the geranium leaves slightly between your palms to release their aroma and add to the juice and tea. Refrigerate and serve with plenty of ice for a cooling and energizing summer drink. I took this to the beach yesterday in a thermos with lots of ice and it was fantastic!

Tropical Tea Party - The Beverages

Although a tea party, the beverages were not restricted to tea only. Here is what we had:
The Charisma house blend of jasmine green tea, osmanthus blossoms and freshly picked herb from my patio - spearmint, lemon verbena and lemongrass!

Magnolia Oolong Tea - one of my favourites, from Murchie's.

Iced tea - of Lychee Black Tea (I used Inner Alchemy's Moonbeam Glory, which also is flavoured with other berries), only slightly sweetened and mixed with lychee juice and a couple of fresh lemon-geranium-leaves (also from my patio!). A full recipe will be posted here at a later date.

Coconut Milk + Lychee Juice was another refreshing drink, although without any tea involved.

And of course - tea tasting from my line of teas.

Geranium, Green and Minty

, originally uploaded by Rod the Rabid Rodent.

, originally uploaded by Rod the Rabid Rodent.

More often than never, geranium essential oil is used for its crushed leaf effect and fresh herbaceous qualities. As mentioned earlier, the presence of menthone and isomenthone renders geranium leaf oil’s freshness and minty character. Linalol makes it a little similar to lavender, and geranium overall is often considered an herbaceous and leafy raw material. In addition to that, the citrusy elements (i.e.: limonene) make it especially favourable in masculine fragrances.

You’ll find geranium in many masculines for men, though rarely will it appear in the name of the scent (the days of Geranium Water are long gone!) or as a major theme. Geranium can be find in classi fougeres such as Azzaro and Canoe, but also in more modern ones such as Cool Water, and the new emerging classification of fougeres for women, beginning with Sarah Jessica Parker’s quirky Covet (where it’s paired with cocoa, citrus and sharp florals to produce a “fougere on estrogen”) and Deseo for women (it smells more like a fougere than the mossless “Chypre” its supposed to be).

In Fougeres, geranium is mostly used for bouqueting the composition, adding the roundness that florals such as rose and jasmine are usually utilized for in “feminine” scents; because while it does provide a similar effect, it is also far less expensive, as well as has that edge of being herbaceous and leafy, preventing it from being too flowery for a man to wear (even though the distinction of florals being feminine is relatively new even in the Western world).

In l’Herbe Rouge I’ve used geranium for exactly that purpose – it’s a fougere composition, yet I wanted to use something to create harmony among the mossy, earthy base (oakmoss, hay, patchouli, vetiver) and the crisp, sharp lavender and juniper top notes. It seems to work really well alongside the leafy lemongrass as well as the spicy clove heart notes.

In the Bois d’Hiver candle, we replaced the rose with rose geranium (for economic purposes – rose otto would make the candle prohibitively expensive, and even the less expensive rose absolute still comes at an outrageous price). In that context, it does well, even though I don’t know about using it in the perfume formulation. I think the florals make it really rich (Bois d’Hiver has rose otto, jasmine and orange blossom).

For the purpose of researching geranium, I’m now doing an experiment replacing rose geranium in a few of my more “masculine” scents instead of the rose, i.e.: Democracy and Rainforest in particular. I think these two might actually benefit from the crispness of geranium and could do without rose’s overwhelming complexity. In Democracy it seemed to have worked fine so far, with half the amount that I usually use for rose otto. Economic indeed.

These days I’m working on a geranium perfume. My main challenge is to give geranium the centre of the stage. I’ve started with a version that is leafy-green and a littly minty. Rather than pretend the herbaceous and leafy green aspects are not there and try to mask them, I’m attempting to bring them out by using several geranium kinds (Madagascan, Morrocan, Egyptian and Bourbon), paired with peppermint and rosemary to accentuate the minty-herbaceouse qualities, lemon and grapefruit to highlight the citrusy aspects, and vetiver and tobacco base notes to support the woody dry out of geranium oil.

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