From Frank Sinatra to Alicia Keys to Carrie Bradshaw, people are always quick to tell you how amazing New York City is—and they definitely aren’t wrong. You can have everything from ramen to weed delivered to your door at 4 a.m., and if you can make it in the Big Apple, well, you can make it anywhere. But in addition to the fact that Bradshaw was living a big fat lie on HBO (catching any form of public transportation—be it a bus, boat, or train—in Manolo’s is not a thing…and neither is a one-bedroom apartment with a walk-in closet on a freelance writer’s salary), here’s what they don’t tell you: The scent of the city, particularly in the summer, consists of a less-than-pleasurable bouquet of steaming garbage, street meat, and urine. Yep, living the dream under those bright lights is actually an olfactory nightmare.
But we can’t blame perfumers for being inspired by the boundless energy and wide range of neighborhoods overflowing with fragrance fodder. Armani Privé’s take on the city that never sleeps is decidedly luxe and made for the posh Fifth Avenue crowd that often leaves a black car idling outside of Bergdorf Goodman—a Manhattan landmark in its own right. Only 1,500 bottles of this rich blend of frankincense, vanilla, cashmere, iris, and peony are being sold at the iconic department store, making it the ultimate non-cheesy souvenir for tourists and natives alike.
But the Italian house’s new eau isn’t the only Big Apple-inspired scent to hit the market lately. Diptyque looked to the “fascinating and muffled atmosphere of the city at night” (hence the tobacco and incense undertones) for its freshly launched New York candle (naturally, it's only available in NYC boutiques). While one might expect to find hints of artisanal whiskey and kiln-dried wood in an ode to Brooklyn, a mecca for hipsters, Gallivant’s citrusy, borough-specific perfume is reminiscent mimosa-filled brunches and brownstones basking in the sun. And Bond No. 9 bottled only the best of Queens, perhaps nodding to Jackson Heights (Little India) with exotic notes of sandalwood, benzoin resin, and cardamom. For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle, there’s Chesapeake Bay’s bougie dedicated to the Botanical Garden (a sanctuary within the city), or Nomaterra’s East Hampton, which instantly transports the senses to sandy dunes and sprawling estates without having to take the Jitney.
Thanks to these six blends, you don’t have to walk the mean NYC streets to feel brand new. Simply spritz or strike a match to get into an Empire State of mind.