Like a true Finn, I sometimes take day cruises over to Estonia. Like many other Finns, I come home with a bunch of strong vodka. But unlike many other Finns, I don’t drink the vodka. Instead, I make stuff out of it. Stuff like this:
The great thing about vodka is that it doesn’t smell much in itself. So when making perfume or as in this case, after shave, vodka is perfect, it can carry the other smells real well. The stronger the vodka, the better, but it should be at least 40%. I use 80% – that’s the kind of stuff you only get on the ferry to Estonia.
I made this after shave together with L to go with the shaving kit that I got him for Christmas. The recipe is based on this bay rum after shave recipe from the fantastic The Art of Manliness blog. We more or less followed the recipe, only didn’t measure out the herbs because, well, I never bother to measure out anything really. Also we don’t have any allspice so we substituted that with a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and instead of orange we used clementine. The result was a bit too christmasy, so I think a bit less cinnamon and clementine would be in order. Here’s the recipe
- 4 Ounces Vodka
- 2 Tablespoons Jamaican Rum
- Dried Bay Leaves
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
- zest from clementine (or orange or other orange-like citrus fruit)
Combine all the ingredients in a glass bottle or jar, close the lid and leave in a dark place. Soon, the vodka will get colored, which means that the smell and benefits of the spices are extracted into the vodka. For our mixture, only a day or two after we made it the clear vodka had shifted into a deep ambery brown. I don’t know if it was this quick because the vodka is so strong or because we used a lot of spices. However, it’s good to keep them steeping for at least two weeks.
Then, strain the spices very well. If you have used any ground spices, be extra careful not to leave any residues (the link suggests using several coffee filters for this). If you do, your product will stay fresh and zingy for a very long time.
Now that you have your after shave, you definitely need to learn how to shave like your grandpa.
If you’re interested in making a herbal perfume, you can get some suggestions here. Or just experiment with smells that you are fond of.