House of Cherry Bomb is a collaborative project between Maria McElroy (of Aroma M) and Alexis Karl (of Scent by Alexis), two New York-based independent perfumers. The first pair of Cherry Bomb fragrances, Truth or Dare and Rebel Angel, were both vanilla-based gourmands created for younger female wearers. Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac are the first two fragrances in the line's exclusive "Atelier collection" (available through the Aroma M Atelier in Brooklyn), and they seem aimed at a more grown-up clientele, one with a taste for unconventional (yet wearable) blends.
Cardamom Rose is "an enchanting scent to be worn in all seasons…with subtle spice, trails of Moroccan flowers and traces of smoke." The mention of Morocco seems important here — perhaps this fragrance is meant to evoke a stroll through the streets of Tangier and the mingled scents of fruit stands, flower markets, spice shops, and smoke drifting out of cafés. Although rose is part of the name, it's not the strongest note in the composition. I'm more struck by a lemony-citrus note, and something green (maybe even some geranium?); the Moroccan rose is there, but it plays a secondary role to these brighter, sharper notes and the sweetish, resiny warmth of the cardamom.
My friend Gaia, sniffing Cardamom Rose on my wrist, declared that "it should just be called 'Jessica.'" (She recently reviewed it for her blog, The Non-Blonde; you can read her thoughts here.) Since Cardamom Rose isn't strictly a rose fragrance, you certainly don't need to be a rose-lover (like me) to wear it, as long as you like Eastern-inspired spices and aromatic, green-fruity notes. Cardamom Rose does feel a bit exotic, but in a sunny, free-spirited way.
Tobacco Cognac, on the other hand, is a"dark, heady scent" with "hints of natural ambergris, 35 million year old fossilized amber, vintage Arabian musk, honey and of course tobacco and cognac." It's fittingly named Tobacco Cognac rather than Cognac Tobacco, because it starts with musky, earthy tobacco notes — not pipe or cigarette smoke, but the tobacco itself, pungent and more than a little bit dirty. (That dirtiness would be the ambergris making itself known, I'm guessing.) I really do not like to use the word "skank" in perfume reviews, but if you must, there's some sneaky skankiness in this fragrance. It's a restrained dirtiness, just enough to give the composition a raw edge.
The later phase of Tobacco Cognac is smoother: the amber and the honey emerge and round out the composition. Something about that honey note does remind me of Aroma M's Geisha Amber Rouge, but Tobacco Cognac never turns as sweet or feminine as Amber Rouge. It could easily be worn by men, yet it's not too overtly "masculine" for women who like boozy, tobacco-inspired scents. I'm not a cocktail expert, but I do enjoy Sidecars made with good cognac, and the dry down of Tobacco Cognac makes me feel as though I've just sipped something along those lines.
House of Cherry Bomb Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac are available at the Aroma M Atelier in Brooklyn; I will update with the sizes and prices when I can. For further information, visit this Cherry Bomb blog page or contact the Atelier directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac are $45 each for 50 ml, concentration unknown.