now smell this

I Hate Cilantro, But This Cilantro Perfume Is Amazing

Go ahead, put it on my gravestone:


Nothing feels as if the world is crumbling all around me quite like accidentally buying cilantro when I mean to get parsley. I HATE CILANTRO. Be gone out of my crisper drawer, green devil! Maybe you hate it, too — if you have that gene, that thing, that makes cilantro “taste like soap” or “a mouthful of mothballs.” I insult the entire state of Texas every time I politely request “no cilantro” on my tacos. So you can imagine what a life of misery and inconvenience I lead! I hope it ends well.

Meanwhile, the unquenchable perfume sampler in me is more open-minded. While pretending to have disposable income at Aedes recently, I tried a perfume that lists cilantro as one of the top notes, after crunchy grass and crispy water (or something). It’s incredible. I splurged for a $4 sample.

Apsu, by Ulrich Lang, is a squeaky-clean, bright-green scent I plan on wearing all spring — also known as “shaved-armpit season.” There’s a touch of violet, which is barely sweet, barely floral, just fragrant enough to make me want to paint my toenails and turn my taxes in on time. There’s a late-afternoon whiff of musk that makes itself known by the time lunch rolls around, because a good perfume is one that transforms with you as the day yawns on. And doesn’t cost $300 a bottle. (It’s $125, not bad!)

The inspiration for the scent, Lang told me, came from a memory of wearing very little clothing next to a pool, surrounded by nature in his native Germany — a summer vibe about “being completely happy with less.” Picture some toned German dudes drinking sparkling water out of glass bottles, talking about films, and twiddling blades of grass between their fingers. Nice, right? In case you were wondering, the name, Apsu, comes from the god of fresh water in Mesopotamian mythology. Casual.

Cilantro is a common green note in perfumes. Smart marketing execs just call it “coriander” to avoid scaring away cilantro haters. Cilantro manifests in perfume like in any good salad — there’s balance to keep it from overpowering your senses. Combined with the molecule that makes Apsu smell watery, the cilantro ends up smelling like early summer morning grass, the kind that gets your socks wet when you go outside to grab the newspaper. Just kidding, no one reads the newspaper anymore!

It’s minimalist yet long-wearing, and as much as I avoid all cliché references to Marie Kondo, it really does appeal to the wannabe clutter-clearer in me. So it’s aspirational, as perfume can tend to be. Some scents make you want to have hot sex on big yachts, some make you want to have sex on clean sheets with the windows open — this is the latter.

Apparently, because of that minimalist sentiment, Apsu is selling like crazy in China, and Lang can’t keep up with the level of production the demand requires. He only sells at select retailers, including Aedes and Barneys (where it is out of stock), which means I can relish this quiet moment where I don’t smell it wafting down the office hallway like Santal 33. For now, it’s only on my wrists.

I Hate Cilantro, But This Cilantro Perfume Is Amazing