Bay Rum ... from Wiki: "It is a distillate that was originally made in Saint Thomas (and probably other West Indian islands) from rum and the leaves and/or berries of the West Indian bay tree, pimenta racemosa. Other ingredients may be citrus and spice oils, the most common being lime oil, oil of cloves and cinnamon."
My criteria was for a spicy, warming aftershave made from spices I already had. I did look for pimenta racemosa but could not find any locally, or online below an extortionate price.
For that, I'll cheat - I bought some Bay Rum Essential Oil.
Legend has it that this brew was put together, simply, by sailors who grabbed leaves and buds before boarding ship and stuffing it into flaggons of rum once on board. Left to steep, the brew became eminently useful for these stinky sailors to freshen up at the next port.
I wanted to follow that tradition and make it up from what I already have ...
So, what do I already have?
I used Sainsbury's basic rum, which is more like white spirit than anything that you'd call a joy to drink. I know the "don't cook with wine that you wouldn't drink", but don't think the adage holds for home made aftershave.
- Juniper berries (10), cloves (6), peppercorns (1), coriander seeds (10), cardamom (2), cinnamon (2"), ginger (1/2 tsp) and clementine peel (1).
- Rum (120ml) and witch hazel (60ml).
- Glycerine (5ml).
- Bay Rum essential oil (20 drops).
I could have used rubbing alcohol and cut it back with distilled water, both of which I also happen to have in for other reasons, but this rum seems just right. Cheap, cheerful and just right for splashing on your body as well as surviving the high seas with!
Into a 200ml jar, shred the orange peel and ginger - push into the jar. Push in the cinnamon and the smaller spices. Pour on 120ml of white rum, 60ml of witch hazel, 5ml of glycerine and let it steep ...
... 7 days later, strain through a piece of kitchen paper and you're done! Well, just 10 drops of the Bay Rum essential oil to make it a little more authentic.
The scent is good! Complex, with just the right hints of clove and cinnamon, which could overpower the brew. It's got a good initial flash burn, but the witch hazel calms while the glycerine feeds.
The scent it fleeting, but really, that's all you want from an aftershave - a quick clean, tone, light scent and get about your day with calmed and nourished skin.