August 15, 2010

Brooklyn Perfumers 2 - Herbal Alchemy Apothecary - Julianne Zaleta

I feel my sophistication factor has risen exponentially because thanks to Julianne Zaleta of Herbal Alchemy, a local Brooklyn natural perfumer, I had the most fragrant summer cocktails recently. I have never been much of a drinker, but this made vodka into a deliciously scented experience. I felt like I was in a contemporary Brooklyn version of a 30s Thin Man movie, or a Mad Men party scene, only we were in the vine grown back garden of the Prospect Wine Shop with community garden herbs infusing the vodka and all ingredients were all natural.

Julianne has made a set of essence dilutions you can add to cocktails, that bloom in the alcohol and make it fragrant and exquisitely delicious. She also infuses the alcohol with fresh herb and nectars ahead of time, then straining it and finally shaping it with the various infusions to a unique taste. She used vodka, but I imagine gin might also be a candidate for such treatments.

For example, the Sprite: Basil infused vodka (crush fresh basil, pour the vodka over it, keep overnight in the fridge, then strain), add two drops of her yuzu dilution and black pepper oil, with tonic water, shaken with crushed ice. This creates a subtle fragrance in the cup of the glass that blooms out fully inside the warmth of the mouth.

The Silk Route: vanilla infused vodka (the soft inner scrapings of a vanilla pod, shaken thoroughly into the vodka) adding her jasmine and coriander oil, and apricot nectar, to be served in a chilled martini glass. Most elegant, very soft, the jasmine wreaths the apricot nicely, and the vanilla softens all.

Summer Crush - lemon verbena infused vodka, passion fruit nectar, and one drop of her pettigrain dilution, strained into a chilled martini glass. The citrus tone of the pettigrain works well with the alcohol and pulls up the nectar to the nose. Most civilized!

See her recipe online for The Bloody Hell, which is a form of mojito - essences of mint, cocoa, and blood orange infused in rum.

If you do not drink alcohol yet like this idea, Julianne suggests the use of her hydrosols, such as rose and jasmine, to flavor chilled spring or sparkling or tonic water.

Julianne also has perfumes to explore on her site. She likes to create perfumes based on defined local areas, such as different parts of Prospect Park, like The Ambergill (the area based on the Adirondack mountain region of New York State – recreating its waterfalls and mossy rocks and ferns) also the Park’s Nethermead; and The Vale of Cashmere, and the local community garden she works in most days, where she gets many of her natural materials. The Vale and Nethermead are in the process of reformulation at this time, but the original versions are still available. She is an avid collaborator and is in the midst of producing a number of fragrances in close association with other people, not necessarily perfumers, who bring their personal influence into the concept of the scent. One such result is Tourmaline, based on a song by Rachel Garniez (link provided to the song on her site) made with tobacco, bitter orange, honey and fern.

Garden Walk is based on the gardens of Victorian Brooklyn, in Clinton Hill, a small neighborhood of many private and community gardens, moving from orris, ambrette and hay notes to tuberose and elemi to the honey of the bees that have become the hobby of a number of rooftop gardeners in Brooklyn these days.

I discern a Victorian/contemporary feeling to her aesthetic, which makes sense because she is reflecting her everyday experience and environment. There is so much Victorian architecture in Brooklyn, which keeps a low-rise sense of neighborliness. Many residents have become enamored of gardening and a green organic life while being modern people occupying the older structures that are tied into the powerful energy grid of NYC. Sometimes it seems like the natural materials are what connect our past into the future and reach out to all the other continents and personal histories.

In addition to making perfumes, Julianne is also a certified aromatherapist, working with massage and meditation, together with the healing properties of essences and herbs, to make a number of medicinal creams and salves. I see there is an Agita Oil, for massaging into tense abdominals. She has extensive experience comforting the seriously ill with natural perfume and aromatherapy materials. She makes her own lavender augustofolia essential oil, and other essences, from plants she raises in her local community garden. She also makes her own Rose, Violet, Hungary and Carmelite Waters, which are generally fine things to have in your beauty/medicine cabinet.

It's interesting that she has found a way to be local, natural and yet very much of the city and the sophisticated tastes thereof. Julianne has been giving lectures around Brooklyn on the uses and pleasures of natural perfumery - and has doing much to get our local neighborhood open and used to the idea of the use of fragrance in many different contexts.

You can access a set of her infusions for drinks on her site, as well as more information about her perfumes and medicinal salves and lecture schedule.


Anonymous said...

dream come true. I want;-)

Lucy said...

Jade, you are just the one for the fragrant drinks...

Scent Hive said...

Lucy, what a lovely review. I adore Tourmaline. It's a musky floral that is leafy and very pretty. Garden Walk sounds like something I would really enjoy as well!


Lucy said...

Hey Trish,

I know you had written about Tourmaline, and I do think you would like Garden Walk. I know there are some things in progress we will both like.

Scent Hive said...

Ohhhh....can't wait for more fragrances from this line!


Cheap_Perfume said...

This was a great fragrance line. I hope I can have more of this as soon as possible!I can't wait..yummy :)

ScentScelf said...

My cup runneth over.

Or, at least, I intend for it to do so. Soon. :)

I love this idea. You know I am a fan of the pairings, and of spirited explorations for their own sake so the pre-conjured infusion concept is something I'm glad to hear somebody has taken on and given life to. I am absolutely going to check out these offerings...and perhaps I'll even get inspired to try a few of my own...

Lucy said...

Yes, SS, it's a lovely idea and she's worked it out to be delicious and fragrant and subtle...I am interested in trying some of the creams and balms since I know that fresh materials can make such difference.