A recent New York Times article enlightens us to a trend we’ll call Scented Cocktails.
Scents are starting to show up in martinis, margaritas and much fancier concoctions, thanks in large part to Mandy Aftel, a former psychotherapist who now makes edible and potable perfumes.
Her vials of essences sit behind the bars at high-profile restaurants around the country, as well as at New York City cocktail temples like PDT, Pegu Club and Booker and Dax at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Many bartenders believe the scents add one more dimension to the multisensory experience of a good drink.
Even purist mixologists like Audrey Saunders and Jim Meehan, who say they would never reach for any ingredient that was synthetic or stale, are pouring Ms. Aftel’s products into their potions. After all, the powerful aromas and tastes are drawn from the botanical world and not from the flavor and fragrance suitcase.
Ms. Aftel, 64, lives in Berkeley, Calif. with her husband, cat and that essential tool kit, her perfume organ: an arched, multitiered shelving unit that holds a collection of 600 scents culled from flowers, spices, grasses, barks and resins. These expensive distillations, which she sources from around the world, are the sensitive components in her line of natural perfumes, Aftelier.
Ms. Aftel said she has never experimented with the artificial ingredients that dominate the scent and flavor industries.
“It is the synthetic that stinks up the elevator,” she said. “I am not interested in scents that have that kind of staying power. A natural perfume costs more and disappears quickly, but while it lasts it’s extremely beautiful.”
“On the skin the natural scents disappear quickly,” she said, “but in food or drink, one drop can also make a drink or a dish pop. It’s like magic.”