There are few things we hate more than picking out a new cologne. You go through fifteen different cardboard strips sprayed with samples to end up with nothing more than a headache and a bag with the same cologne you’ve probably been wearing for decades. Cool Water is great and all, but there are better, artisanal options you won’t find at the local big box. Here are some of our favorites:


Le Labo Santal 33

Le Labo is putting the soul back into the fragrance market one bottle at a time. Think simple labels, vintage stories and scents they describe as being reminiscent of the old Marlboro ads. Santal 33 uses cardamom, iris, violet and ambrox to create a scent that’s equal parts spicy, leathery, musky and addictive… maybe that visceral Marlboro description story isn’t too far off base after all.


Juniper Ridge Big Sur Backpacker

Distilled and extracted from wildflowers, plants, bark, and nature in general that they harvest (legally, of course) from the trail, Juniper Ridge creates Wilderness Perfume that gives you that outdoors smell even when you’re behind a desk. Our current favorite is the Big Sur Backpacker Cologne, a fragrance that gets its sea tincture, cypress and black sage notes from the wild sage gardens of Central California.


Portland General Store Bootlegger

Portland General Store makes colognes inspired by recipes from the 1920s and ‘30s. In 2010, they made one of their signature small batch colognes called Moonshine. In 2013, they were hauled into court and had to stop selling it. Bootlegger, our favorite PGS scent, is that scent. You can’t quite smell that story, but the deep oriental musk with hints of fruits and spices delivers like only small batch can.


The Motley Palo Santo

What started as a late night lightbulb idea for an online men’s grooming destination has evolved into production of The Motley branded products like one of our new favorite colognes: The Motley Palo Santo. Smoky wood notes blend seamlessly with suede, hops and palmwood for a scent that evokes the spirit of Los Angeles.


DS & Durga Burning Barbershop

DS & Durga is a small batch production shop started by a musician (D.S.) and architect (Durga) duo with a passion for fragrance and old-school production methods. Our favorite, Burning Barbershop, is a scent inspired by a half-full bottle of shaving tonics found charred after a fire at the Curling Bros. Barbershop in 1891.


Patch NYC x Soap & Paper Factory Skull

Built as a collaboration between Patch NYC and Soap & Paper Factory, each of the fragrances in the collection is inspired by an iconic ink drawing from Don at Patch NYC. Skull, for instance, mixes black tea, anise, basil and citrus to create a darker, but balanced and fun scent that perfectly reflects the skull packaging designed by John at Patch NYC.


Strange Invisible Magazine Street

For more than a decade, Strange Invisible Perfumes has been creating high-end perfumes that are 100% made of authentic botanicals. That kind of commitment to the craft makes their offerings a little pricier, but scents like the New Orleans’ inspired Magazine Street that smells of vanilla, vetiver, magnolia and botanical musk are absolutely worth it.


West Third Brand Vintage Leather

Started by a creative director with almost two decades experience creating fragrances for big box companies, West Third Brand knows how to make a great scent, but this time around the fragrances are all artisan and made to order. Picking a favorite is hard, but Vintage Leather might as well be bottled childhood baseball glove with its collection of leather, moss, tobacco, and cedar notes.

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Unzip your coat and have some mulled wine on the house—you’ve arrived at your final gifting destination: The Holiday Gift Guide. It’s like your friendly neighborhood one-stop holiday shop, except instead of balsa wood ornaments, ours is packed with thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Future heirlooms, small-but-significant stocking stuffers, and gear for getting out there (or staying in)—are all right here. There’s no music playing in the background though, so you’ll just have to hum Bing Crosby while you click around instead.

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