Frapin’s Speakeasy is completely unique – there is nothing else like it. Sticky, humid, and sparkling, the fragrance smells like an expatriate enjoying tropical drink in a Havana bar at dinnertime. Speakeasy’s melancholy yet roguish mood conjures images of the existentialism, bar-hopping, and social dinners of Hemingway’s wonderful The Sun Also Rises. Describing such a scene in the book, Hemingway writes:
“It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people.”
Speakeasy opens with a blast of… well, everything. It is as if one has lifted the velvet cord blocking the entry to Cuba’s La Bodeguita del Medio – walking into the bar, the air shifts. Wafts of unlit cigar tobacco float by the nose. The wood bar is freshly oiled, but someone has spilled some rum on a nearby spot. The mint and lime are front and center as a mojito accord clearly comes through. Something sweet – probably a mix of the immortelle, amber, tonka bean, and labdanum – underpins the entire composition, reminding the wearer of scrumptious bar food and alcohol-induced hunger. As the fragrance dries down, the alcoholic vibe burns off and the fragrance becomes more leathery and a bit gourmand, with hints of candied sugar and bitters.
Performance is on the high end of moderate. Speakeasy always lasts at least 8 hours on my skin, with moderate sillage and better than moderate projection. However, the fragrance is thick. In the air, it comes across as a sparkling (even fizzy) and sweet aromatic fragrance. On the skin, it’s a leathery and booze-tinged amber scent. A dashing immortelle note is always present. Coming closer to the source gradually reveals more layers, which reveals additional complexity and quality.
This could easily be worn by both men and women, but it’s best enjoyed by people who would naturally fit in at a 1950s Havana bar. Being comfortable with imbibing (and smoking cigars) is part of this of course, however the more important traits are introspection and a wild-eyed intellectualism. Ernest Hemingway would wear this fragrance. And it’s egalitarian too – for the price, it’s a downright steal. At the very least, get yourself a sample.
I began and will end this post with Ernest Hemingway, because his writing truly captures the soul of Frapin’s Speakeasy. In The Sun Also Rises, one colorful character launches into a rant about the protagonist’s adventurous and alcohol-tinged expatriate lifestyle:
“You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafés.”
Channeling Hemingway himself, the protagonist offers a slick reply:
“It sounds like a swell life.”