I’ve not yet had the chance to visit Berlin, although it is on my list. My aesthetic imagination of the German capital city has been somewhat reshaped by the 2012 film A Coffee in Berlin, shot entirely in black and white, following a young man through a day of failed attempts to get a literal coffee in Berlin. Each failure seems to reflect an aspect of his life that needs work. It’s gritty, with just enough resilience to keep the story from becoming purely depressing through the monochrome lens.
Recently, I’ve been testing some perfumes from the Baruti discovery set that I bought. All are extrait de parfum by perfumer and brand founder Spyros Drosopoulos. Some I’ve found hard to parse in much detail. Tindrer opens with lemon (it’s actually lemon verbena) and a lot of greenness, after which it settles into a soft, powdery violet like cool fairy dust mixed with white musk. Onder de Linde is also green, though with a bit more complexity—once I realized my mental association of the scent was with the starfruit, or carambola, I couldn’t unsmell that. I could also get the descriptions of “honeyed pear” that some Fragrantica commenters mentioned. Voyance was more straightforward to me, as I got white floral (tuberose is listed) and sandalwood right away, melding into smoky vetiver.
Today was a cold Monday so I thought Berlin im Winter would be appropriate. As with the other perfumes, I tried it on before looking it up so I could start unbiased. One spritz and I knew I wanted to write about this one.
Berlin im Winter opened for me with a bright citrus and something that reminded me of Le Labo Santal 33, with leather and also something animalic. I imagined a day outside during a Berlin winter, wearing a leather jacket, breath swirling in the air. Soon, I was enveloped in sweet musk. However, I could still sense the chill from a note like concrete, perhaps a clever use of aldehydes. More milky wafts.
Impatient, I looked it up, and was surprised at a few things. No citrus or musk are listed. The brand’s description is of a perfume that “aims to evoke intimate and cosy nights by the fireplace,” in stark contrast to my mental imagery. However, we could agree on one thing: “A dreamy whisper of rose lurks in the background.” That was part of the musky, floral beauty in the heart. Sadly, I did not pick up on the roasted coffee note (which may not be so incongruous if I’m standing outside the cafe on a cold winter’s day…)
Eventually, I’m allowed inside, although the coolness lurks—probably by way of the frankincense and mastic, ingredients that may be the ones contributing to the “medicinal” aspect described by others. I also perceive a slightly sour wood, which matches the oud note, as well as a smoothness that I would attribute to the myrrh, lavender, iris, and amber notes. At this point, I can talk myself into smelling the coffee and whiskey (or “Irish Coffee”) as the drydown heads toward the warm and fuzzy. I’m surprised sandalwood is not listed.
In the longer term throughout the day, the bitter green of mastic was most consistent and persistent, leaving a feeling of green dust. At one point I reapplied Berlin im Winter and it shifted the balance toward a much smokier wood, with a background of resinous warmth.
I think this could be a fitting smell-track to the film, especially toward the part where—spoiler alert:
He gets his coffee in the end.