Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jean Patou- Cocktail Dry (Vintage Perfume)

The DVF boutique in NYC has a large seating area in the middle of the store where you can usually see a few guys who came in with their wives or girlfriends playing games on their phones, texting and trying to pretend they're not really there. Jean Patou had a better solution in the 1920s: his couture studio featured a cocktail bar where the gentlemen could lounge while the ladies were being fitted. It probably helped put the men in a good mood and made paying for the gowns a lot more palatable.

By 1930 Patou decided to convert the space into a perfume bar and asked his house perfumer Henri Alméras to create a perfume trio: Cocktail Dry, Cocktail Sweet and Cocktail Bittersweet. These are the ancestor of the better known Cocktail that is part of the Ma Collection.

Cocktail Dry and its siblings have been discontinued for decades and rarely appear anywhere. I was incredibly lucky to find a sealed albeit half evaporated bottle of the parfum and discover that while it's probably aged significantly, it still smelled beautiful. In its prime, Cocktail Dry was probably a lot greener, especially at the top. What's left is still very herbal and aromatic which makes me suspect it might have been a fougere. The surprising part of the scent is a round and full animalic base which I adore. The husband says the late drydown on my skin smells like honey. I think that's his perception of a certain type of animalic skank- think Miel de Bois or MKK.

I don't and of course would never wear fur, but the image created in my mind when smelling Cocktail Dry is standing in a bar, sipping something sophisticated (funny. I hardly ever drink) while having a luxurious fur casually draped over my shoulders. I'm also a lot taller in this picture and also speaking French, so I guess I really got drunk on this vintage cocktail.

1952 ad from


  1. How interesting! I'd never heard of this one. My sole vintage Patou is Moment Supreme, in perfume. Even thought the top (well, probably middle) is all lavendar and bitter-ish herbal, the base is animalic as you describe. The old perfumes seem so much...braver.

  2. In 1956 I was fortunate to receive a gift box containing three small bottles of Moment Supreme, Amour Amour, and Cocktail Dry. I married the gift giver a year later and although I saved the Moment Supreme for my wedding night my favorite was always Cocktail Dry. It made me feel so sophisticated, it could have been because of the name, but until that time I hadn't ever smelled anything so luscious. I saved the bottles for many years and was informed they might have been of baccarat crystal, long after I had thrown them away. How sad!

  3. I have four bottles of Cocktail Dry; three unopened and in their boxes and one that has always been open- and smells wonderful. After long consideration I have decided to sell the three unopened bottles on eBay because I know after I kack, my daughter will donate it all to whichever thrift store arrives first to pick it all up! Does anyone have an idea of the value of each bottle? They are 4" tall, unopened, minor evaporation and their boxes are in excellent condition. The bottles are the same shape as the Moment Supreme bottle, which I also have. Apparently my grandmother loved all things Jean Patou and my grandfather indulged her with perfume, furs and diamonds. She was very French.

  4. Oh Lord, Cocktail Dry sounds wonderful..How I wish that Patou would revive it..any chance of that do you think? The bar, the drink, the coat...ahhhh.


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