Interviews Cocktail-Inspired Fragrances from Brazil: An Interview with Daniel Barros

Cocktail-Inspired Fragrances from Brazil: An Interview with Daniel Barros

10/02/16 08:28:25 (8 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Daniel Barros

MARLEN: Hi Daniel! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. Our readers know you first as a writer for Fragrantica; tell us about your other identity as a perfumer.

DAN: That's actually something that started around two years ago when I decided to mix some fragrances that I considered more homogeneous and thought they could be combined together to form a new fragrance. I actually never thought that could even work, but the results were great in my opinion. Later on I attended a course by Cinquième Sens here in São Paulo where we could play with accords and create something close to a real perfume. That's when I got really motivated to invest in raw materials, both natural and synthetic, and to start making my own scents.


Daniel Barros Fragrances

MARLEN: What is your history as a perfume lover? How did this passion start for you?

DAN: It started when I was like 7 years old, when I used to mix talc and alcohol in order to create a perfume. At least that's how I thought it was done... The results were satisfactory to my taste at the time. Later on, as an early teenager, I used to secretly "steal" my mother's scents when everyone was away. I remember she wore Quartz by Molyneux and I applied it on my skin. I thought it could be worn by a man, since it was very bright and fresh. Perfume had always been a taboo in  my home, seen as something feminine, so I was ashamed to even show my interest. 

During my teenage years I rarely had any contact with fragrances, except when we visited shopping malls in São Paulo (we lived in the countryside) and I got to spray them on blotters. It was my favorite thing to do in the big city. But I never really bought any fragrance until I was 17.

That year actually almost made me take the wrong turn. First, my mother gave me Polo by Ralph Lauren as a birthday gift in January. I absolutely hated it and thought it smelled like a Pinho Sol, a very common cleaning product in Brazil. In July, I went on a beach vacation (it is summer in Brazil) and ended up finding a cheap Joop Homme, 30ml. The sales assistant didn't give me the chance to try it on, so I bought it sealed. Later on, I applied it at home and a single spray was enough for everybody to start complaining about that horrible cloying smell. But, by the end of the year, I managed to buy Insensé by Givenchy and that put me on the right path.


Top notes are mandarin orange, neroli, apricot, liquor and lavender; middle notes are ylang-ylang, patchouli, caraway and nutmeg; base notes are amber, myrrh, opoponax and cacao.


MARLEN: And now that we know about your initiation into the perfume world, how did you get started as a writer in this field?

DAN: When I took my sabbatical in 2012, I decided to go deeper into the stuff I loved and one of them was perfumery. So I went to Amazon and looked for every book on the subject. I was very disappointed to know that there were only two respected guides (Turin's and Hermann's), apart from several other more technical ones or aromatherapy-related. Even so, I read everything I could. Having done that, I realized that I could share my knowledge with the world and write a book that I've always wanted to buy. So I wrote "Fragrances to Try Before You Die", female and male editions (available in Portuguese at I also found out about the possibility to buy decants and decided to purchase all of Turin's 4 and 5 star rated fragrances. I also added some that I knew and some that were highly ranked on Fragrantica. That's how I made the selection. I tried every single one in order to write the reviews for my book. 500 in total.

Lacender Chai


Top notes are orange, lemon, cardamom, ginger and black tea; middle notes are lavender, geranium, cinnamon and cloves; base notes are oakmoss, honey, tonka bean and musk.

MARLEN: So when did you decide to create your own fragrance line - Daniel Barros Perfumes - and what guided the development of the 12 scents?

DAN: Very early this year, I went through a bad phase. I was depressed and got very introverted. Rarely stepped outside. I knew that perfume was very therapeutic for me, so I decided to compose a line that paid tribute to the main fragrance notes or accords. As the compositions were being made, I asked some friends and colleagues to visit and evaluate them. Many started to say that some of them smelled like coca cola, or liqueur, or cognac. So that's when the idea of turning the whole line into a drink-inspired collection popped up.



Top notes are pineapple, coconut, rum, neroli and magnolia; middle notes are jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang and tuberose; base notes are milk, sugar, sandalwood and ambergris.

Jasmiña Colada

MARLEN: And each scent represents a different drink, and there are 12 of them! Did you initially develop the line with the idea to sell them or more for your own personal pleasure? If the former, did you have a target consumer in mind?

DAN: Yes, because initially I had selected 12 themes (citrus, tonka, jasmine, iris, leather, amber, rose, spices, red berries, chocolate, tobacco and incense). So I just had to find drinks that could match them. It was hard in some cases, because I believe that no one is able to fully enjoy all fragrance themes. I myself dislike incense and spices, so I had to rely basically on other people's feedback. I could only assess the quality of the juice, but not the likability of the scents themselves.

Sex on the Peach


Top notes are grapefruit, peach, tropical fruits, cumin and black pepper; middle notes are freesia, mimosa, jasmine and rose; base notes are patchouli, sugar, indole and musk.

MARLEN: So let's talk about the fragrances! You previously told me that you really enjoy Rosa Libre the most. It would seem then that you found inspiration in the drink Cuba Libre, yes? The composition includes spices, resins and herbs and one might imagine that along with rose this would be a very strong, heavy composition. But on the contrary, it is sparkling, effevescent and almost fresh-smelling. How did you come to pair rose with a cola accord?

DAN: Indeed. Rosa Libre was the reason this whole collection was inspired by drinks. By accident, my tribute to the rose ended up with a coca cola feel when I mixed some natural and synthetic ingredients. I won't tell the secret... Curiously, I got this composition right on the very first formula. It was very exciting! I thought it could not be possible, but then everybody who tried it on had the same feeling. They thought it was original, versatile, unisex... So they begged me not to mess with the formula.

I like to humbly think of Rosa Libre as a chypre that stays in the middle of the classic and modern ones. While it retains the mossy and earthy feel, it has also some subtle gourmand undertones.


Top notes are citruses, violet leaf, ginger and coca-cola; middle notes are rose, geranium, caraway, black pepper and ylang-ylang; base notes are oakmoss, patchouli, labdanum and musk.

Rosa Libre

MARLEN: Tell us about one of the scents from the collection that was a challenge to develop or complete.

DAN: Sex on the Peach took 6 months. Mainly because it's hard to deal with a fruity cocktail inspired drink and not turn it into something girly or with a shampoo vibe. I was looking for the right component for the sensual aura and finally reached for cumin – an ingredient pratically forgotten nowadays. None of the animalics worked, but a tiny bit of cumin was magical and I finally reached that feel of sweaty skin spread over a juicy scent with a vacation atmosphere.

Kiris Royale


Top notes are mandarin orange, black currant, red fruits, cardamom and champagne; middle notes are iris, violet, rose and heliotrope; base notes are red cedar, orris, sugar and musk.

MARLEN: Let's discuss Kiris Royale. This one has some quite unexpected notes. I expected creme de cassis and white wine but found much more there. It's really quite striking; the combination of the sweetness from the fruit and cedar and the doughiness from the iris is beautiful.

DAN: Yes, that's my second favorite. Kir is made with white wine, Kir Royale with champagne. I reached for red cedar as a base because I wanted the juice to have the original drink's color. As I added black currant and orris, I started to see an original aroma being formed. That blew me away as iris is my ultimate favorite note. The red cedar base gave an syrupy touch while the citruses gave the bubbly aspect to the fragrance. I must say that red cedar is the secret there.


Top notes are lime, mint, rum, saffron and grass; middle notes are lily-of-the-valley, violet, geranium and patchouli; base notes are oakmoss, leather, cashmeran, geranium and musk.

Cuir Mojito

MARLEN: It sounds like there were some enjoyable elements of surprise as you crafted a few of these.

DAN: Yes, and this is the difference of being a chemist and a self-taught perfumer. We "play by ear" and end up with some unexpected combinations of notes.



Top notes are black currant, lavender, cardamom and coriander; middle notes are coffee, milk, cinnamon and patchouli; base notes are tonka bean, almond, cacao, sugar and musk.

MARLEN: Let's talk more about this distinction for a moment...a chemist vs a self-taught perfumer...

DAN: A chemist is intimate with the substances at the molecular level. They know how things will react, which bases will be formed. Someone like me, with an elementary knowledge of chemistry, can only be guided by the nose. We mix ingredients and check how they smell. As simple as that. Of course we need to follow best practices, but they don't require a lot of technical knowledge.

It's more important to know how a fragrance is formed, following the pyramid concept. Once you learn the weight of each ingredient, i.e. their volatility, you can then build a composition with top, heart and base notes without knowing anything about their molecular reactions.



Top notes are bergamot, juniper, star anise and pink pepper; middle notes are geranium, violet, nutmeg and ginger; base notes are vetiver, cedar, olibanum, elemi and musk.


MARLEN: That's a very clear explanation, thank you Daniel! I had a very strong reaction to Tonkaccino, Gincenso, and Yuzucello. 

Yuzucello strongly recalls Fresh's Lemon Sugar scent, but wow, for a citrus-themed scent, Yuzucello has incredible longevity and sillage! Gincenso starts off with gin and ends with elemi and olibanum! And Tonkaccino forgoes the sugary sweet coffee concept we find in other brands for something creamier, and even a bit spicy. I love the cinnamon and cream here.

I love that the scents all offer something familiar and comforting combined with something surprising and unexpected!

DAN: Fortunately I had the help of local indie perfumers. I learned how to let the concentrate sonicate, rest, filter, and so on. Yuzucello has a very solid sandalwood base, which is responsible for its longevity. Its secret is actually not the yuzu but the use of litsea cubeba, a herb with a heady citrusy odor which is very diffusive. Gincenso goes against the tide of olibanum based scents as I wanted to make it fresh and translucent. Something that you could wear at the office and feel comfortable. It's still smoky but transparent. Glad that you liked Tonkaccino. I wanted it to be a good interpretation of the drink, with a spicy and milky aspect. I used lots of real coffee beans, so it has a 3D effect.



Top notes are yuzu, lemon, basil, artemisia and grass; middle notes are neroli, lily-of-the-valley, cypress and; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, sugar and musk.

MARLEN: Daniel, you mentioned, "I learned how to let the concentrate sonicate, rest, filter, and so on." Could you tell us more about this?

DAN: Once you mix the ingredients, the scent will only smell the way it should after about a month if you let it rest. However, you can use an ultrasound device to speed up the process so the maturation will be maybe shortened by 3 weeks. Most mixtures will precipitate and need to be filtered. Then you measure the pH. If it's alkaline, it's a no go and you need to start from scratch. I also add a few drops of distilled water to soften the alcohon-on-skin impact. These steps are not complicated but they need to be followed.


Top notes are bergamot, lemon, green leaves and lavender; middle notes are iris, heliotrope, coconut and almond; base notes are sandalwood, dark chocolate, cashmeran, musk and vanilla.

Choco Frap

MARLEN:That's a fascinating aspect of perfume creation that I bet many of our readers are learning about for the first time. Thank you, Daniel!

And where can readers purchase these fragrances?

DAN: So far I'm asking for those who are interested to send me an e-mail, as I still haven't set up an online store nor a distribution channel. I sell discovery sets with 4 or 10 bottles of 9ml each or single bottles of 30ml each, EDP concentration: contato at The set with 4 costs $65, while the one with 10 costs $125. The 30ml costs $45.

MARLEN: Will there be any additional products in the current line such as bath and body or home products? And are there any plans to create additional items in this line or another, different line?

DAN: No but I'm working on the 13th scent inspired on our national drink - Caipirinha; it will have an oud theme and will be called Caipiroud.



Top notes are bergamot, cardamom, dried fruits and cognac; middle notes are tobacco, hay, rose, carnation and heliotrope; base notes are sandalwood, oak, tonka bean and vanilla.


MARLEN: Is there anything else you'd like to discuss or share with readers about your line?

DAN: I'd just say that perfumery is an art of patience, besides the technical and artistic aspects. You don't reach good results if you are in a hurry. The more you practice, the more you learn how taming anxiety is crucial to the process.


Image of the author


Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting



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being a hardcore gourmand lover this particular line catches my interest :) I'd love to try tonkaccino, choco frap and sex on the peach, a gourmand with an animalic touch! great to know you're also a perfume lover and scientist! ;)


Wowzers!! Very cool article and exchange between you two. There's definitely an art to Perfumery and it takes an artistic nose to find harmony and balance in the notes blended.

Many years ago, The Body Shop had a fragrance bar that allowed you to make up your own signature scent from a plethora of fragrance oils. It was fun to put together scents I was drawn to. at the time. Funny, my concoction of tropical fruit notes would've made Escada proud. haha

Congratulations on your new business venture, Daniel. When will these be made available in the U.S.?


Those look like a lot of fun!


Wonderful interview! Thank you for this!


good stuff!


Great interview! I'm not into the drink's thematic, but some of the compositions seem very sound and original. Now I gotta learn about sonicate, pH and all that jazz. Also, for someone that doesn't like spices, they appear quite a lot in the pyramids!


Thank you for the interview, Marlen. You did a great job!


Fascinating interview, and I'm so glad to hear the depth of the questions and Daniel's responses. I love the connection he's made between accords/ perfume families and drinks - it makes them very accessible to people who may not be familiar with some of the perfume building blocks. They sounds delicious, too.


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