What's That You're Wearing? Roast Beef?

Food Fragrance

Smell this. It's awful!Photo courtesy CB Perfume

Those of you who don’t already reek of booze should take note: CB I Hate Perfume in Williamsburg will unveil, this week, a new fragrance inspired by one of perfumer Christopher Brosius’s favorite drinks — whiskey and ginger ale with a slice of cucumber. It joins CB’s “food series,” which also includes roast beef, bruschetta, pesto, boiled rice, a California roll, cucumber sandwiches, French bread, and tortilla chips. The scents go for $25 to $35 for fifteen milliliters, but don’t try to buy the food ones on the Website. “I want people to come to the gallery,” Brosius says, “to smell them and know what they’re getting into.” So what are they getting into? We asked the perfumer himself.

Do people actually wear the roast-beef fragrance?
A lot of them are unwearable. Most of the time the people who buy them buy them as a modern smelling salt. If they’re feeling run down or out of sorts, they’ll smell the bottle and feel better.

What foods are hardest to reproduce?
Meat fragrances, simply because a lot of the chemicals that were necessary aren’t part of the fine-fragrance repertoire. Same with French fries or anything that involves a cooked or fried fat. Major fragrance houses will say they have cheeseburger, but it’s like cheeseburger, not really the smell of the cheeseburger. Mushrooms have been really helpful in terms of re-creating certain meat smells.

Have you had to abandon any fragrances?
Barbecued chicken, fried chicken, hamburgers. I’ve worked on a bunch of cheese fragrances, and while they do smell like cheese, they’re completely and totally revolting. I had to drop the French-fry project. Who really wants to smell like they’ve been working in a diner all day?

Have you tried bacon? Maybe to go along with a bacon scarf?
I used to have a really good smoked bacon at my old company, but after a period of months, it would start to smell very odd indeed.

What are some of the zanier custom requests you’ve fielded?
A proper English tea: the tea, the cucumber sandwiches, a small vase of flowers, the teak tray.

What’s your best seller? Or the most surprising one?
We’ve sold a few dozen roast-beef bottles. For something that bizarre, that’s a lot.

When you do cocktails like a gin-and-tonic, do you have to tone down the booze scent?
I don’t use alcohol as a base any longer. It’s never a pleasant note. You don’t want to smell like you’ve just been drinking for days on end. Sometimes a fragrance is not a real reproduction, but it’s presenting the odor in its best possible aspect. Mildew is a great example. There’s a particular pleasure in that smell if you do it the right way!

If you don’t like Brosius’s scents, we recommend you wash them off with some absinthe soap.