Once upon a time the perimeters of summer were demarcated by the cocktails people drank from June to September, versus the ones they tossed back at all the other times of the year. Having been born as WASP as it gets, I remember the buzz of cocktail parties, rising and intensifying as the decibel levels increased, over green lawns, lawns which hissed noisily themselves- if Joni Mitchell was to be believed- on those afternoons in the 70s. (or 60s.)
We were exiles from such gatherings, pretty tame in my father’s parish, but much more lively on Fire Island, paid off like undesirable boyfriends, only cheaply in our case, with picnic dinners and cans of Coke. We took ourselves off to review some dad’s Playboy stash while the grownups managed to perambulate the decks of our neighborhood, glasses in hand, ending up at the house of some luckless housewife who’d drawn the short straw for the barbeque, by which time a lot of the dads were too blasted to know what they were eating anyhow, potato salad or crab melt? Once my mother, who was dreadfully allergic to shellfish, ate clam dip by mistake, and had to trudge up and down the concrete sidewalk till dawn to evade anaphylactic shock.
We led exciting lives back in those days, what with the divorces, and the older kids’ drug busts. And then there would be a new John Cheever story to tell us about the deadening anomie of it all, though I don’t recall being bored for a second. When I was in single digits, Mrs. B. one of our neighbors, was devastated by the news of Adlai Stevenson’s death. She mourned him in a proper fashion, wading in the Great South Bay, in a bikini, tears streaming from behind her sunglasses, with a gin and tonic in her hand.
Who says that Americans are devoid of a sense of style?
So when I remember those years of my childhood, I recall the nostril stinging smell of gin and tonic or gin fizz with a great deal of affection because it was what my parents usually drank. I loved the smell of the gin and used to tell my father that I wished there were a perfume that smelled like that. My father, of course, told me that if I were a grown-up and wore a perfume that smelled like gin I’d get a ticket for DWI and a reputation, and that was the end of that. But I’ve never really forgotten the smell of gin or gin cocktails and I still love a good scent version when it turns up.
This was why, when I finally ran across Lubin’s Gin Fizz I was so crestfallen. Lubin makes some of the very best bottles and packaging in the industry. They are lovely, but the contents are hit or miss, and while some are quite good, Black Jade, and the fabulous Idole, others are merely so so. Gin Fizz, in its beautiful bottle, smelled like a cross between an aspirin tablet and White Linen to me, and I was made very sad by the fact because I had wanted to wear it so much. Alas, it was not to be. Gin Fizz smelled nothing like the Gin Fizzes effervescing in my memory.
On the other hand though, I finally got around to smelling Micallef’s Royal Vintage and was pleased to discover that this oriental woody has a distinct juniper berry top note and a pleasant cooling woody body and dry down. I had almost forgotten this, but find now that it is my favorite of all the Micallefs so far (my sample came some time ago from the makers).
I thought it would not be for me, and so forgot about it and only found the sample because I had been rooting about in the off season testers in my cellar. (I cellar perfume by the way, and that only sounds odd. It’s quite logical if you think about it.) The notes say something about bergamot and berries in the top but I smell juniper and thyme, and stick to this. It reminds me of summer lawns and beaches, and cocktail party chat, and the gins and tonics on bright green lawns which I don’t drink. In fact I checked our sole gin bottle the other day.
It was covered in dust.