St Johns Blog

Robb Recommends: The Crisp and Cool Cologne That’s Perfect for Summer

St Johns’ newest scent is an ode to madras, arguably the season's best menswear material.

By ERIC TWARDZIK at the Robb Report

Welcome to Robb Recommends, a regular series in which our editors and contributors endorse something they’ve tried and loved—and think will change your life for the better. If you purchase a product or service through a link in this story, we may receive a small commission.

Madras has been a summertime staple for generations. But now there’s a whole new way to wear it against the skin—as a scent.

St Johns Madras is a freshly introduced cologne that draws inspiration from that most global (and preppy) of fabrics. And if any maker was going to try and distill a fabric still closely associated with East Coast preps into a scent, it would have to be St Johns. The brand, which was established in the Virgin Islands by a U.S. Navy officer in 1946, built its name on Bay Rum, that sweet, spicy elixir that shot to fame in the Mad Men era and is still stocked at all the best haberdasheries where your grandfather might have shopped.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I happen to love Bay Rum. My wife disagrees, insisting that the occasional spritz make me smell like an “old man” (something I’m guilty of in temperament if not years).

St Johns Madras Cologne

So, it was a delightful surprise that Madras earned my better half’s approval. I’d credit that to the cologne being lighter and more delicate than those old-school scents I’m so fond of, while retaining a certain masculine spiciness that could have wafted through a Grand Central-bound commuter train circa 1961.

It’s citrusy up top with the cooling balm of basil, and seasoned with a liberal dash of black pepper that settles marvelously on the clove and nutmeg that serves as its heart. And once those initial impressions have triggered the senses, a woodsy base fortified by amber, cedar, and patchouli consolidates its cool yet spicy presence. Best of all, at $60 a pop it’s priced so that I can hit my wrists and neck post-shower without feeling as if dollar signs are escaping its atomizer.

Cool, bold, and casual, St Johns Madras shares several characteristics with the fabric that provided its name. And I, for one, plan on wearing both with regularity this summer.

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