Monday, March 27, 2006

For a good time call . . .

. . . the Perfumer's Apprentice in beautiful downtown Santa Cruz, California.

Amongst the crowded streets of downtown Santa Cruz wander folk from all walks of life. It is, however, a predominantly pseudo-bohemian, retro-hippie haunt dotted with micro-breweries, cafes and quaint shops offering everything from Santeria styled art and East Indian clothing to funky magician's toys and custom made perfume.

Yes! Custom made perfume!

At Perfumer's Apprentice, you can sample the wares of Mandy Aftel, the High Priestess of Natural, Botanical Perfumes, or perhaps peruse the beautifully packaged botanical wonders of Italy's Profumo, another wizard of essence blending. Or even, perhaps, whiff and sniff the blended body oils offered by the artisan(s) at Perfumer's Apprentice.

Elegantly furnished and well-lighted, Perfumer's Apprentice offers a wide range of experimental wonders. From the top shelf, where apothecary bottles filled with such lovelies as tuberose, Dragon's Blood resin and Madagascar vanilla beans soak in alcohol, to the tables lined with student's spaces topped by lazy susans and cluttered with 5ml bottles of every essence, natural and synthetic, known to humankind, you will find a veritable gold mine of olfactory treasures.

Make-your-own-perfume blending sessions at $15 per person entice those hesitant to explore their creative talents. If you're new to perfumery blending, $15 is a very small price to pay to learn the basics. Each student's station comes equipped with a tool kit, which include scent strips, strip stand and various essences, all within arm's reach. Also available are synthetic perfumer's ingredients like aldehyde C 11 and coumarin, among others.

All in all, the set-up is geared toward teaching perfumery at its basic levels. But if you're interested in purchasing natural perfumes, the selection presented at Perfumer's Apprentice is skimpy at best.

What would make Perfumer's Apprentice the perfect place to hang out? More. That's it. Just more. A wider selection of natural perfumes from lesser-known natural perfumers would be wonderful. More tinctures and infusions lining the upper shelves would be great, too, so that We Who-Do-Not-Tincture/Infuse-But-Talk-About-It can see what really goes into the process of extracting essence from rare and lovely botanicals.

So the next time you're in the neighborhood, ring up Perfumer's Apprentice and make an appointment for a blending party. You and, say, five of your closest girlfriends (or boyfriends), can while away the day getting punch drunk on your very own personalized perfumes.

Oh, and the steam distillery in the front window? Beautiful. Makes me want to go out and pull up all my lavender just to see if I can do it too.

Perfumer's Apprentice
1319 Pacific Avenue (Upstairs)
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 466-0288
Wed. 11:00a - 6:30p
Thurs. 11:00a - 7:00p
Fri. & Sat. 11:00a - 9:00p
Sun. 11:00a - 6:00p


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