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Vintage Perfumes For Sale

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cocktail by Jean Patou c1930

Cocktail was launched in 1984 as part of Patou's Ma Collection. It was based on a trio of scents that Jean Patou had created in the 1930s, but can be said that it is Jean Kerleo's modern interpretation of the fragrance Cocktail Dry.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It is a powdery chypre, with only the faintest hint of sweetness due to the floral notes. It opens with a sharp, but dry, slightly bitter note of petitgrain and lavender accord, then honeysuckle, hyacinth, geranium, clove, green not indolic jasmine and rose meld at the heart. Dusty vetiver, ambergris, oakmoss and soapy musk round out the base.

  • Top notes: apricot, anise, aldehydes, verbena, chamomile, bergamot, petitgrain, honeysuckle and lavender
  • Middle notes: osmanthus, galbanum, mimosa, hyacinth, geranium, ylang ylang, clove, jasmine and rosa centafolia
  • Base notes: Peru balsam, tolu balsam, orris, sandalwood, patchouli, tonka, vetiver, musk, incense, black tea, oakmoss, musk, benzoin, civet and ambergris

The Cocktail Bar:

In the 1920s, Jean Patou installed a special cocktail bar in his showrooms, which, he said, " is to quench the thirsts of bored husbands and other men during fittings.  Three cocktail themed perfumes created by Henri Almeras (Cocktail Sweet, Cocktail Dry, Cocktail Bitter Sweet) as well as Angostura perfumes were available to the general public about a year later.


These perfumes were available in the luxury parfum versions made up of Baccarat crystal or larger less expensive versions in two and a half ounces clear glass bottles for the eau de toilette.

One may also find the tester flacons which were used at the Jean Patou boutiques and department store counters, these bottles are clear crystal, some have the JP intaglio stoppers ending in long daubers, as shown below.

photo from an old ebay auction

Other bottles similar to this are the clear crystal extrait (parfum) flacons by Baccarat which were sold individually in white presentation boxes. These bottles have arched shoulders, eight panel-faceted bases and an arched stopper with the JP intaglio.

photo from ebay seller solidshell

Cocktail Bittersweet, circa 1930s-1940s, photo by ebay seller solidshell

image of Cocktail Sweet from an old catalog

photo from ebay seller stumptownusa

This concept was resurrected in a mini bar presentation dubbed the Cocktail Bar a Parfums, it came in three sizes: Le grand bar, Le petit bar and Le baby bar, all consisted of several fragrances, meant for women to play with at home as seen in the vintage ad below.

Made up of faux wood Bakelite, the Grand bar included the three Cocktail perfumes were included as well as a large empty bottle labeled 'My Own Cocktail'  used for mixing. Also in the barette there were also seven smaller bottles of scents, each was labeled Angostura and given a Roman numeral from 1 to VII, and given a different colored side label to distinguish one from the other. These smaller bottles looked like pie wedges and slipped into a rack which held them upright.

Some of the Angostura bottles contained the essential oils of Opoponax, Sandalwood, Jasmine and Incense. Meant to be mixed into one's own bottles, especially the 'My Own Cocktail' bottle or onto the skin, much like playing bartender and making one's own cocktail of scents. A super cute idea!

The design of the presentation case was created by Raymond Barbas in 1930 and given the design patent # of 83,421.

Angostura pie wedge flacon from the Grand Bar, photo by ebay seller jjwings33

The Petit bar had only two Cocktail fragrances, Cocktail Dry and Cocktail Bitter Sweet as well as three smaller Angostura bottles marked Angostura I, Angostura II, and Angostura III.

The Baby Bar contained the three major Cocktail fragrances, Cocktail Dry, Cocktail Sweet and Cocktail Bitter Sweet, but this set did not include any Angostura bottles.

Henri Almeras at the Bar a Parfums at Patou's Boutique in France, presenting fragrances to shoppers. Curiously you can spot the "Grand Bar a Parfums" presentation at the front left.

Revue diplomatique: politique, coloniale, littéraire et Financiere - Page 68, 1929:
"La soif, l'ennui de trouver ses mots, le simple désir de faire des mélanges, autant de prétextes à cocktails. Jean Patou,  pourra exercer sa subtilité et sa fantaisie en d'amusantes recherches dont le résultat sera une composition inédite : son parfum personnel. 

Vous avions déjà le Cocktails de boissons, cocktails d'idées, cocktails de races — et voici une mode nouvelle et charmante — celle des cocktails de parfums.  Cocktail Sweet, Bitter-Sweet et Dry sont les grands thèmes poétiques de cette nouvelle forme de l'inspiration. Cocktail Dry, c'est d'abord, un parfum sylvestre, un peu masculin, évocateur du plein air, du sport, de la camaraderie.  Voici Cocktail Bitter Sweet, senteur ambrée, plus complexe, visites d'après-midi, danse, un peu de flirt. Finally, Cocktail Sweet, la note fleurie qui accompagne la mode du soir. Vous pourrez les corser encore de quelques gouttes d' « Angostura » par une pointe de santal, d'opoponax, d'encens ou de jasmin. Suivez votre inspiration, Madame,,a, grâce à Jean Patou, vous saurez y ajouter des accents nouveaux."

Time, 1930:
"Jean Patou, as every schoolgirl knows, has an elaborate modernistic cocktail bar, free to customers, favored friends and to all comers admitted to an Opening. To Jean Patou first flocked last week's observers. Buyers and reporters sat staring pensively as the mannequins wove languorously back and forth before them." ."

Theatre Magazine, 1931:
"This new perfume suggests infinite possibilities — perhaps the glamour of countless "glorified" ones imprisoned in a series of three subtle fragrances: one for blondes, one for brunettes, and one called "Bitter Sweet" — we wonder why?. A two-and-a-half ounce flacon of any of these three "Ziegfeld Follies" odeurs is $15, and they made be had at that crossroad of the world of perfumes - Saks Fifth Avenue Toiletries Department."

Country Life, 1931:
"After the most interesting demonstration in scent making by Jean Patou of Paris, and the Robert Douglas 1931 Products, which took place last week, and to which we ... A woman can mix her own scent from Jean Patou's Perfume Cocktails which consist of three basic essences and of seven vials of 'Angosturas' - purple, indigo, blue, green, yellow and red - which one would want the pen of a poet to describe, and are so concentrated that a single drop will alter the mixture. It is a fascinating game to mix one's own perfume, and to possess a cocktail bar of this description suggests endless delights to which I cannot imagine any woman being"

Caras y caretas, 1932:
"A NEW IDEA - THE BAR OF PERFUMES. Behold the cocktail that can be taken without remorse, the cocktail will not talk or curse the sages of academic medicine. Only in fact, Jean Patou, the famous couturier in Paris, the creator of many fashions obeyed and followed by women around the world, could decide that seven extracts women ... you find in your bar and wearing the symbolic name of angostura. The second "Bitter Sweet", more languid, for the afternoon. Finally, "Sweet" is a floral fragrance for the evening which will stir fans. With these bases, each lady will add one or two of the seven extracts found in his bar and wearing the symbolic name of angostura."

Harper's Bazaar, 1930:
"CONSIDER YOUR PERFUME It is the Medium through which Madame Expresses her Individuality. "It is  not enough that the smart woman of today shall be well dressed, I well coiffed, and well shod," says Jean Patou. "It is quite as important that she shall be well perfumed, though this may require a great effort and great research." To promote such an ultra-modern idea, this great fashion authority has devised a perfume bar, where the chic woman could have her scent mixed. The component parts required for this infusion are four major perfumes which he calls cocktails, and seven minor scents which correspond to angosturas. These perfectly delightful ingredients can be mixed in different proportions to suit the individuality and taste of the woman.."In an effort to obtain a fragrance expressive of their own personalities," declares Monsieur Patou, "there has been a vogue recently among women of fashion for making their own..." Here are the ingredients for blending your scent like a cocktail, to express your type or to fit the occasion. Above, are the four major scents: Dry, Sweet, Bitter Sweet, My Own."

Perfumery and Essential Oil Record, 1936:
"M. Jean Patou, one of the best -known Paris dress designers, has died there, aged 49. His innovations included a " perfume bar " with which a woman could mix a new perfume each day in a shaker."

The New Yorker, 1950:
"Among the revivals, first place must go to Patou's Cocktail Dry, a perfume that became a legend in the early thirties and probably will find new devotees in the fifties. It's a clever, alive scent, well described by its name."

Town and Country, 1951;
" Jean Patou's distinctive Cocktail Dry is its premiere in cologne form."

The Illustrated London News, 1955:
"Pay Attention! . . . When you take care wear this perfume - Cocktail Dry! Like the subtle flavor of the connoisseur's cocktail , it is insidious - it goes straight to the head with unpredictable suddenness. . . Not a perfume for the ingenue."

The Illustrated London News, 1955:
"Not a perfume for the ingenue. But uninhibited outdoor personalities will appreciate the sweet-bitter tang of Patou's Cocktail Dry. And world- wise women who avoid the obvious in all things will immediately recognise its potent possibilities ."

Harper's Bazaar, 1956:
"Cocktail Dry" — a mysterious medley of woodsy scents, chypre and a pinch of spice. By Jean Patou."

The New Yorker, 1956:
"Patou's Cocktail Dry has a contemporary, lively appeal, though it is not as well known as the softer Moment Supreme."

Fragrance Compositions:

  • Cocktail Dry: a masculine perfume, it has a pronounced green note with lavender, geranium, oakmoss, jasmine, galbanum, clove, petitgrain, mimosa, chamomile, sandalwood, tonka, bergamot, patchouli, rosa centafolia, orris, osmanthus, apricot, Peru balsam, tolu balsam, benzoin, aldehydes, vetiver, musk, honey, verbena, black tea, anise, amber, civet, and incense. Suitable for morning.
  • Cocktail Bitter Sweet: an amber perfume, other notes unknown. Suitable for afternoon.
  • Cocktail Sweet: a floral fragrance, notes unknown. Suitable for evening.

Fate of the Fragrances:

Discontinued, date unknown.

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