Blood Orange Cologne Newsletter
"The fiacre stopped at the door of a celebrated perfumer, and the commissionaire, deeming us of too much value to be left on a carriage seat, took us in her hand while she negotiated a small affair with its mistress. This was our introduction to the pleasant association of sweet odors, of which it was to be our fortune to enjoy in future the most delicate and judicious communion. We knew very well that things of this sort were considered vulgar, unless of the purest quality and used with the tact of good society; but still it was permitted to sprinkle a very little lavender, or exquisite eau de cologne, on a pocket-handkerchief. The odor of these two scents, therefore, appeared quite natural to us, and as Madame Savon never allowed any perfume, or articles (as these things are technically termed), of inferior quality to pollute her shop, we had no scruples about inhaling the delightful fragrance that breathed in the place."
--from Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief
by James F. Cooper
“My perfume brings to mind a fine spring morning after the rain; a composition of orange, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, flowers and fruits of my homeland…”-Giovanni Maria Farina
A History of Colognes
The investigation into the roots of any family of perfumes is a fascinating one. When I started the research into the roots of eau de cologne, I came to appreciate how the present and future builds upon the past. It is equally intriguing to see how at a particular moment in time a particular fragrance captures the imagination of the people of that time and becomes immensely popular as happened with Eau de Cologne, its popularization in Germany and its eventual spread to all parts of the world.
Previous to the commercialization of Eau de Cologne which took place in 1709 in the city of Köln, Germany the most popular alcohol based perfume was Hungary Water. It is considered, by many the first modern perfume that had a multinational clientele. Indeed many local variations of the formula arose in the European countries that circulated it.
"Hungary water (sometimes called "the Queen of Hungary's Water") historically was the first alcohol perfume formulated in Europe at the command of Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary. The exact date of when the first batch of Hungary water was made is lost to history. It is equally unclear even who in particular created it. Some sources say it that a monk-recluse who first gave it to Elizabeth, though most likely it was made by court alchemist (who could also have been a monk, thus reconciling the two traditions). In its first version, it was distilled rosemary and thyme with an infusion of spirits, while later recipes contain lavender, mint, sage, marjoram, costus, orange blossom and lemon.
Hungary water first appeared outside of Hungary in 1370 when the French Charles V le Sage, who was famous for his love of fragrances, received some. Hungary water was known across Europe for many centuries and until eau de Cologne appeared in the 18th century, it was the number one fragrance and remedy applied in the world. Similar to other herb and flower-based products, Hungary water was not only a fragrance, but also a valuable remedy as it used to be in the Middle Ages. The most valuable description of its attributes was in 1683 in the "Pharmacopeia Londoniensis" by Nicholas Culpeper:
"The water (containing an infusion of spirits) is admirable cure-all remedy of all kinds of cold and humidity-induced head ailments, apoplexies, epilepsies, dizziness, lethargy, crippleness, nerves diseases, rheumatism, flaws, spasms, loss of memory, coma, drowsiness, deafness, ear buzzing, derangement of vision, blood coagulation, mood-induced headaches headaches. Relieves toothache, useful for stomach cramps, pleuritis, lack of appetite, indigestion, obstruction of the liver, obstruction of the spleen, intestinal obstruction and contraction of the uterus. It receives and preserves natural heat, restores body functions and capabilities even at late age (saying has it). There are not many remedies producing that many good effects. Use internally in wine or vodka, rinse temples, breath in with your nose."
Sometime in the late 1600's there lived in Italy a man by the name of Gian Paolo Feminis who was a barber by trade. It is thought that he was obtained a copy of Hungary Water produced in the Santa Maria Monastery, Florence for several centuries. Naturally the recipe had been adapted to the aromatics available in Italy at that time. He in turn modified the recipe according to his own tastes and created the prototype of Eau de Cologne in 1695 and gave it the name of Eau Admirabilis.
Then with his recipe in hand he came to Germany to seek his fortune and settled in the city of Köln. There, in 1709 he began selling his aromatic creation which was composed of citrus oils such as bergamot, neroli, orange and lemon and various herbs blended into pure grape alcohol. The simple, fresh, exhilarating beauty of his perfume immediately became popular in this major commercial center and as the demand for the product increased he required more help to produce and market it. He then requested his nephew Giovanni Maria Farina to come and assist him with his work.
Giovanni had a natural business bent-of-mind as well as a perfumers heart and he quickly advanced the name the delightful product even further and in 1714 gave it the name of Eau de Cologne which was locally known as Kölnisch Wasser or "Water of Köln". He furthermore began to promote it as a cure-all for both internal consumption and external application. Since Köln was a major center of international commerce of the time, traders from other countries began to take back this local product to their own countries. At that time French was the language of commerce so Giovanni converted the German name of the perfume "Kölnisch Wasser" to the French "Eau de Cologne". In 1731 he took over the business and with each passing year under his competent management the business grew. Many rich and famous people of the time became his customers including Charles VI of Austria, Maria Theresa of Austria, Clemens August I of Bavaria, and Frederick William I of Prussia. Through his work Köln established itself as a major perfume city. Seeing his success many other companies endeavored to copy him and by the end of 1860 there were over 40 shops advertising Eau de Cologne under the name of Farina.
In 1756 the 7 year war broke out (1756-1763) which involved most of the European countries and many of their colonies. Farina supplied the French troops with Eau de Cologne because of its purported medicinal value as well as for its fragrance. Through the French it was circulated to its allies in Austria, Russia, Sweden and beyond and its fame grew ever more.
Eau de cologne, a refreshing perfumed toilet water which was to become the world's most famous cosmetic item of all time, was originally used for medicinal purposes. Made from a formula which included essences of rosemary, orange flower, bergamot and lemon, drops of cologne were taken on sugar or in wine for disorders of the digestive system. In addition, due to its antiseptic properties, it was used as a mouth wash, for cleansing wounds, and for massage as relief for muscle and joint pains.
-see "Refreshing Drops: Eau de Cologne"
The fragrance became so popular in France that Farina decided to open a shop in Paris but appears that very soon after many copy-cat shops arose selling Eau de Cologne as it had in Köln so Farina sold the formula to Leonos Collas, a Frenchman who in turn sold it to the established Robert et Gallet perfume house who continued to successfully market the Parisian version of Eau de Cologne while descendants of Giovanii who remained in Köln continued to market the product in Germany.
When Napoleon came to power in 1799, he further championed the reputation of Eau de Cologne as he was a lavish user of the essence and it is reported that he used several liters of it per month. In 1810 he made a decree that every product that was reputed to have curative properties would need to openly reveal its ingredients. Those holding the secret formula decided at that point to declare Eau de Cologne to be a simply a toilet water and not a cure all as it previously advertised to be. By slow degrees people forgot this part of its history.
The late 1700's and early 1800's marked the ascent of France as the perfume capitol of the world and with passage of time many of the established perfume houses created their own versions of Eau de Cologne. Today the word cologne simply refers to a dilution of 3-6% perfume concentrate in alcohol and there are numerous perfume houses producing a great diversity of products which bear little resemblance to the simple citrus/herbal cologne of the house of Farina in Germany.
Two of the old perfumeries which are reported to have the original formula continue to offer a cologne that is in many ways related to the original:
Roger and Gallet
(which also has a museum and is at the original location of the first Eau de Cologne factory)
Traditional Cologne Recipes
Here are a few basic traditional recipes quoted from the offering in Perfumery and Kindred Arts: A Comprehensive Treatise on Perfumery by Richard S. Cristiani.
"No. 1. Eau de Cologne. (J. M. Farina.)
Oil of bergamot . . 4 fluid ounces.
lemon . . . 1.5 fluid ounces
neroli, bigarade 3 fluid ounces
rosemary 3 fluid ounces
cloves ... 1/2 fluid ounce
lavender (best) 1/2 fluid ounce
Deodorized alcohol . 2.5 gallons.
Rectified spirit . . 1.5 rectified spirit
No. 2. Eau de Cologne. (French recipe.)
Oil of neroli (petale) . . 3 ounces.
bergamot . . . 3 ounces
petit-grain . . . 1 ounces
cedrat . . . 3 ounces
orange (Portugal) . . . 5 ounces
rosemary . . . 3
Deodorized spirit. 60 proof. . 5.5 gallons.
Mix well and allow it to rest seven days before
No. 3. Eau de Cologne. (Second quality.)
Oil of bergamot . . . 4 ounces.
lemon. . . . 4 ounces
orange . . 4 ounces
rosemary . . . 3 ounces
neroli (petale) . . 1 ounces
petit-grain . . . 2 ounces
Alcohol, 85 proof. . . . 6 gallons.
Cologne water is very volatile, and I have found
favor for my own recipes because I have made them
more lasting by adding some fixing ingredient, which
also tends to correct the odor of the fusel oil which
remains in the corn spirit, and is unpleasant.
No. 4. Eau de Cologne. (Cristiani's.)
Oil of bergamot .... 8 fl. ounces.
cedrat . . . . 4 fl. ounces
rosemary (flowers) . . 4 fl. ounces
neroli, bigarade . . 2 fl. ounces
petit-grain . . . 2 fl. ounces
cloves . . . . 1 fl. ounce
Extract of orange-flower, No. 1
(from pomade) . . .1 pint.
Tincture of ambrette . . 1/4 pint
Tincture of orris . . . 1/4 pit
Deodorized alcohol, 95 . . 6 gallons.
Orange-flower water, triple . . 1 gallon
This has given general satisfaction, as it approaches
in odor many of the most celebrated German colognes.
Cologne Oil. (Cristiani's Cologne Essence.)
Oil of rosemary (flowers) . . 8 ounces.
bergamot , . . . 8ounces.
orange (Portugal) . . 6 ounces.
lemon . . . . 4 ounces.
cedrat . . . . 4 ounces.
neroli (petale) . . . 4 ounces.
petit-grain . . . 4 ounces.
lavender (best) . . 2 ounces.
cloves . . . . 2 ounces
Alcohol, 95 proof.... 5.5 pints.
Four ounces of this essence in 7 pints of alcohol
and 1 pint of orange-flower water, will make a good
cologne water suited to the wants of American
This recipe is our own adaption of a traditional cologne. We will be sending out the free samples to whoever orders during June in a solid perfume base which is at a higher percentage (10%) in the beeswax/carrier oil than the same concentrated essence would be used in a conventional cologne (3-6%). If one has access to a 190% grape alcohol that would be ideal medium for making a scrumptious cologne. Just 1 ounce of the base perfume concentrate would be sufficient to nicely scent 16 ounces of grape alcohol.
1.5 ounces Bergamot eo
1.5 ounce Petitgrain sur fleur eo
1 ounce Rosemary Flower eo
.75 ounce Neroli eo
1 ounce Orange Essence eo*
.75 ounces of Lime Essence eo*
1.5 ounces Lemon Essence eo*
1 ounce Blood Orange eo
.25 ounces Ylang Superior Extra eo
*The essence oils of Lime, Orange, Tangerine and Lemon are a special distillation of the juice when it is condensed for concentrate. At that time oil from the juice comes to the surface is distilled off. The oil from the juice is more delicate and sweet than the corresponding oil from the peel. It is a lovely addition to the perfumers palette who enjoy working with citrus oils
Cologne in Literature
"They got on well in the winter too. They took the theatre in the town for the whole winter, and let it for short terms to a Little Russian company, or to a conjurer, or to a local dramatic society. Olenka grew stouter, and was always beaming with satisfaction, while Kukin grew thinner and yellower, and continually complained of their terrible losses, although he had not done badly all the winter. He used to cough at night, and she used to give him hot raspberry tea or lime-flower water, to rub him with eau-de-Cologne and to wrap him in her warm shawls."
-from The Darling
by Anton Chekov
"Pierre left the room at once, with a soothing 'Bien, Monsieur'; and I felt the better for this scene of simple, waking prose. Seeking to calm myself still further, I went into my bedroom, adjoining the salon, and opened a case of eau-de-Cologne; took out a bottle; went through the process of taking out the cork very neatly, and then rubbed the reviving spirit over my hands and forehead, and under my nostrils, drawing a new delight from the scent because I had procured it by slow details of labour, and by no strange sudden madness. Already I had begun to taste something of the horror that belongs to the lot of a human being whose nature is not adjusted to simple human conditions."
-from The Lifted Veil
by George Eliot
"The door opened, and the adversary came in. She and her patient eyed each other steadily. Then the nurse went to the dressing-table and took the watch with its chain and pendant key, and opened the drawer in the secretaire. Lady Louisa watched her take out a bundle of papers and put them in her pocket. Then she locked the drawer and replaced the watch, and returned to. the bedside. She wiped away the beads of sweat which stood on Lady Louisa's forehead, touched her brow and nostrils with eau-de-Cologne, and sat down in her accustomed place. Lady Louisa saw that her eyes were red."
by Mary Cholmondeley
"I had two or three idle books, it is true, as travelling-companions; but there are many moods in which one cannot read. My novel lay with my rug and walking-stick on the sofa, and I did not care if the heroine and the hero were both drowned together in the water barrel that I saw in the inn-yard under my window. I took a turn or two up and down my room, and sighed, looking at myself in the glass, adjusted my great white "choker," folded and tied after Brummel, the immortal 'Beau,' put on a buff waist-coat and my blue swallow-tailed coat with gilt buttons; I deluged my pocket-handkerchief with Eau-de-Cologne (we had not then the variety of bouquets with which the genius of perfumery has since blessed us) I arranged my hair, on which I piqued myself, and which I loved to groom in those days. That dark-brown chevelure, with a natural curl, is now represented by a few dozen perfectly white hairs, and its place -- a smooth, bald, pink head -- knows it no more. But let us forget these mortifications. It was then rich, thick, and dark-brown. I was making a very careful toilet. I took my unexceptionable hat from its case, and placed it lightly on my wise head, as nearly as memory and practice enabled me to do so, at that very slight inclination which the immortal person I have mentioned was wont to give to his. A pair of light French gloves and a rather club-like knotted walking-stick, such as just then came into vogue for a year or two again in England, in the phraseology of Sir Walter Scott's romances 'completed my equipment.' "
-from The Room in the Dragon Volant (1872, 1929 ed.)
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
"Senses! You don't know what you're talking about. Look around you. Here in this shop I have everything that can gratify the senses: apples, onions, and acid drops; pepper and mustard; cosy comforters and hot water bottles. Through the window I delight my eyes with the old church and market place, built in the days when beauty came naturally from the hands of mediaeval craftsmen. My ears are filled with delightful sounds, from the cooing of doves and the humming of bees to the wireless echoes of Beethoven and Elgar. My nose can gloat over our sack of fresh lavender or our special sixpenny Eau de Cologne when the smell of rain on dry earth is denied me. My senses are saturated with satisfactions of all sorts.
-from Village Wooing
by George Bernard Shaw
"And truly, never was there seen a more brilliant chivalry than that collected round the gallant Prince Henry! There was not a man in his army but had lacquered boots and fresh white kid-gloves at morning and evening parade. The fantastic and effeminate but brave and faithful troops were numbered off into different legions: there was the Fleur-d’Orange regiment; the Eau-de-Rose battalion; the Violet–Pomatum volunteers; the Eau-de-Cologne cavalry—according to the different scents which they affected. Most of the warriors wore lace ruffles; all powder and pigtails, as in the real days of chivalry."
-from The History of the Next French Revolution
by William Makepeace Thackeray