Despite my trying new fragrances all the time, this list has remained relatively static for years. It will take a lot to dethrone any of these old wardogs from my list. So without further ado, here you are:
Quorum (Antonio Puig)
Here it is, my favorite fragrance, my Number One. I've said about all I can ever say about this awesomely dark, macho monster.
I still get excited whenever I put on Quorum. It's the most aromatic fragrance I've ever smelled, with all the patchouli, tobacco, leather, pine, herbal notes and oakmoss I could ever want. And it blends it all perfectly.
I own eight bottles of Quorum for a reason.
Drakkar Noir (Guy Laroche)
One "Top Five" post I plan on doing soon is an article on old school macho frags. Drakkar Noir will definitely be on that list. This is one of the most bad ass fragrances ever made.
Drakkar Noir was my very first fragrance, and I still wear it. It has a dark, oily glow that separates it from everything else I own. I'm not sure if that effect is from the leather, juniper or the patchouli, but whatever it is, it's what has drawn me to this powerhouse since the time I first started wearing it in 1988.
Many people consider Drakkar outdated and way too strong. That's because they don't have what it takes to pull off wearing it.
Azzaro Pour Homme (Azzaro)
Azzaro Pour Homme is the greatest masculine fragrance ever, and is in my personal Top Five. I can't imagine a day where my big 100 ml. bottle isn't sitting on my dresser.
It does everything perfectly, and it has everything I look for in a fragrance - masculine smell, perfect balance, strong aromatic qualities, versatility, great longevity, and it projects at just the right amount of strength. It's also got an old school French style that I love to wear. I never tire of this scent.
When I wear Azzaro Pour Homme, I feel like it's part of my body. This is one I know I'll be wearing until I die.
Eau Sauvage (Christian Dior)
Drakkar Noir may have been my first fragrance ever, but Eau Sauvage, my second fragrance ever, was what started my passion for perfume. It was also my wife's first gift to me, back in 1993, so it has special meaning for me. I've gone through about ten bottles of it, and I've been wearing it ever since.
Eau Sauvage is one of the classiest, most elegant fragrances I know, and I literally feel like a million bucks every time I put it on. Its perfect blend of citrus and floral notes has never been surpassed, and I never tire of it. It's got that old world French Mediterranean feel that I love.
My only complaint about Eau Sauvage is that it has terrible staying power on my skin. If I get three hours out of it, I'm lucky. However, it's so good, I just keep reapplying it when it fades. I'd pay just about any amount of money to keep my supply going. This is another one I'll be wearing to the grave.
Kouros (Yves Saint Laurent)
Most Americans are completely repulsed at the smell of Kouros, because it defies all sense of what's "acceptable" in a scent in this country these days. For me, it was love at first sniff, from the moment I first smelled it back in 1994. I've been wearing Kouros ever since, and have never been without a bottle.
I love everything about it: its macho smell, its unrelenting strength, its amazing ability to meld clean and skanky smells together perfectly, its Mediterranean vibe, and the fact that it's totally unique. This is the quintessential powerhouse fragrance, yet it's timeless. Kouros is not obviously an 80s fragrance, unlike, say, Quorum.
I wear Kouros year round, yet I prefer it in fall and winter. For some reason, all of Kouros' many facets spring to life for me when the air is cold.
Paco Rabanne Pour Homme (Paco Rabanne)
For many years, I considered Paco Rabanne to be my favorite fragrance. However, for some reason I haven't worn it much during the past couple of years, so I can't honestly say it's my favorite. It's still one of the best colognes I've ever worn, and still deserves to be in my Top Ten.
I love how green and old school Paco Rabanne smells. I love dry herbal scents, and I love how Paco combines green herbal notes with old fashioned barbershop smells like talc and shaving cream. It smells like a green version of Pinaud's Clubman a lot of the time.
Strong, long lasting, classic and manly to the core, Paco Rabanne is a fragrance I've been able to grown into easily, since I started wearing it back in the mid-Nineties.
A*Men (Thierry Mugler)
You're probably surprised to learn that I wear and love this fragrance, never mind putting in my all-time Top Ten list. It's gourmand, insanely sweet, and the most feminine smelling fragrance I own - all bad qualities for me in a men's fragrance. And you know what? I love everything about it.
Angel has always been my favorite women's perfume. I get weak in the knees when a woman wearing it walks by. What I love about A*Men is that it's a men's version of Angel. Granted, it's not masculine compared to anything else I own, but I don't feel feminine at all when I wear it - I wouldn't wear it if I did.
A*Men's blend of patchouli, caramel, floral notes and chocolate is indescribably great. I consider it a potion, not a fragrance.
Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme (Van Cleef & Arpels)
No fragrance for men smells as menacing as this old school monster. I wear this whenever I feel the need to intimidate (I'm a lawyer). Wearing Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme with a navy blue pinstriped suit, white shirt, cufflinks and black wingtips makes quite a show of authority.
To call this scent dark and austere is an understatement. Nothing about it smiles. It's an amazingly dense and powerful leather chypre that is bitter and aromatic, and it has the transparency of a brick wall. It was created in 1978, but its over-the-top levels of oakmoss and patchouli give it the feel of an 80s powerhouse.
This is one of the all time great powerscents, and is an essential staple in my wardrobe.
Patchouli by Santa Maria Novella
You all know patchouli is my favorite fragrance note, and Santa Maria Novella's Patchouli is my favorite patchouli perfume. Patchouli does not get any more hardcore than this. If you hate patchouli, this fragrance will drive you to murder.
It's raw, deep, extremely dark, earthy and powerful. There is nothing to water down its full bore potency. There is no amber, vanilla or other silly sweet notes to make it more user friendly. That's why I love it so much.
Despite its aggressive nature, SMN's Patchouli is the most versatile patchouli I own. Believe it or not, I wear this in business settings.
Brut (Helen of Troy/Faberge)
I've never hidden my love for Brut, and my earlier review of it here says it all. When I want to feel totally put together, I reach for Brut. I also like splashing it on after a shower at night.
Though I love the cologne by itself, Brut is best experienced if you do the whole Brut regimen: aftershave lotion, aftershave balm, shaving cream, deodorant, and cologne. I have all of it, and I think it cost me about $25 for the whole line.
I love the Brut in the cheap plastic bottle well enough, but the real treat is Brut Classic, made by the same company and packaged in a green glass bottle with a silver chain around it. It's the perfect bottle of Brut, smelling the same way I remember Brut from when I was a kid in the 70s. It smells greener, more natural and much more complex than the plastic bottle version, and is better than most fragrances that cost ten times more.
COMING SOON: My Top 25