Cocktails centered around scent are on the rise

Scents are the sensation of the season, with fragrances appearing everywhere in marketing from magazine pages to bus stop ads to alcohol packaging. As young people desire more immersive dining and drinking experiences, consumers of age can also enjoy olfactory offerings at a growing number of cocktail bars.


The couple behind Sfumato Fragrances often experimented with flavors and fragrances and this spring took that passion to the next level by opening Castalia. By day, their location in Midtown, Detroit is a perfume shop and by night, it’s a scent-focused cocktail bar. The husband and wife duo did an overhaul of the space to incorporate custom furniture and decor that can pull double duty as a storefront and a lounge. Castalia serves cocktails and mocktails inspired by fragrances alongside the accompanying Sfumato scent itself. 


When opening a new location in NYC, The Aviary wanted to change the scented cocktail it offers in Chicago, a bourbon drink wrapped in oatmeal-scented air, to something more curated for locals. Thus, the Wake and Bake was born: the drink features coffee and orange liquors and is served in a clear plastic bag that, when opened, engulfs the drinker in the scent of an everything bagel—garlic, onion, poppy seeds, and sesame oil. The Aviary is known for its experimental cocktails, running around $30 a glass, including one served with billowing dry ice and one served in an ice ball that users crack open with a provided slingshot.


Amsterdam watering hole Pulitzer’s Bar offered three signature cocktails based on the aroma of Le Labo’s famous Santal 33 earlier this year. The layers of the smoky, powdery scent were represented by cocktails named for the elements of the fragrance they each evoked: Cardamom, Violet, and Leather. The limited edition drinks tied into the hotel in which the bar is located, Hotel Pulitzer, which uses Santal 33 as a bathroom amenity as well as spraying it throughout the property, creating an olfactory resonance that consumers associate with the brand.