Natural Bay Rum aftershave ...That's how!
Bay Rum has been around about as long as Methuselah...(and if you know how old he is please let me know)...but really, this odoriferous concoction was made and routinely used by sailors in the West Indies around the 19th century. A true "local" product it was made from the leaves of the West Indian Bay tree (pimenta racemosa), Jamaican dark rum & spices. This concoction was them combined in a bottle and set to "mingle" in a dark place below decks.
The result? a herbaceous cologne perfect for masking the briny odors of hard working sailors hoping to gain the affections of governors daughters, feisty harlots and other comely port side beauties. With an initial nose as bold as a cannonball yet mellowing quickly to be as delicate as a westerly trade wind, Bay Rum did right by the rum soaked Limeys, Privateers and their ilk. Nowadays this sweet nautical elixir can be used by you, the modern male (or female), to mask the ungodly stench of printer toner, ass-berry scented office candles and crappy office coffee.
I know you must be saying "I signed up for a blog about the Redland, not this Cabin Boy perfume-o-rama BS"...stay with me.
|Coontie - Zamia Floridiana|
Tucked away deep in the Redland, around 320th Street and 197th Ave is a great nursery called Caseys Corner. They carry native and "almost-native" plants, trees, shrubs & palms. Saw Palmetto, Coontie, Old Man Palm, Citrus of all shapes and sizes, even thornless Florida Blackberry bushes.
|Cotton Candy Plant in bloom|
thats the berry in the top left
The first time I visited the nursery, Casey walked us around the property passing us samples of every kind of fruit & herb you could imagine. All at once, and in an almost Gene Wilder/Willy Wonka type experience we were tasting and viewing so many unique plants and fruit it made our heads spin. Some of the flavors that still linger in my mind are the confection-sweet berries of the cotton candy plant (cordia dentata), the heady perfume of All Spice leaves (pimenta dioica), plump & sweet Florida blackberries and the true-to-its-name Cranberry Lettuce, a plant with deep red maple like leaves that taste amazingly like cranberries. I could just imagine it mixed into a salad of various greens, walnuts & goat cheese drizzled with a citrus vinagrette mmmmm...
While Lemon Bay is not related to the bay leaf we cook with (laurus nobilis), you can use. Lemon Bay in cooking too. One of the best ways to capture the flavor is to grill it with fish. Simply make a foil pouch, place the fish inside, add one large leaf, butter, kosher salt, pepper and seal it up & grill on med high heat until done (10min x inch of fillets thickness). The result is a delicately scented fillet you wont soon forget. I also added some leaves to my turkey brine this year along with some florida orange zest & locally grown sage, it made for some mighty fine fried thanksgiving turkey.
Enough wandering! back to the Bay Rum....you could go the easy way and buy Bay Rum at your local Walgreens (just drive to a corner, any corner, I'm sure you'll run into one) OR you can do the fun thing and make it your own damn self! Its easy and rewarding...how many guys do you know can say they make their own aftershave...I thought so. So here's the deets...
Bay Rum Aftershave
|Main plant ingredients left to right: Orange peel, Allspice, Cinnamon & Lemon Bay Leaves|
How To Make it Do what it Do: combine all ingredients in a mason jar or similar clean glass container, set in a cool dark place, not the fridge, and let sit for about 2 weeks. Strain the contents through a few coffee filters until all solids are strained out. Put the finished product in a worthy bottle (those Grolsch beer bottles with the flip top are perfect). Splash it on after a shave or add a dab to your face on your way to the marina...the ladies down at the dock will thank you for it ;). And if aftershave isn't your thing you can also use it as a room fragrance, just drop some scent reeds into the bottle and voila, your living room is now West Indies scented!