Lustray Bay Rum Compound (Lustray)

Bay Rum is something only a man could invent. Imagine a sailor in the seventeen hundreds, adrift and disgusted by his own b.o., sifting through what little supplies remain aboard his floating barrel for anything to alleviate his stench, and all he can find are dry spices, a bottle of rum, and a handful of forgotten bay leaves from the cook's quarter. These miserable scraps are thrown together and left to sit for a few days. Sails are tied, pirate attacks are repelled, and when he returns to his weird concoction, he finds it grim, but amenable for use in lieu of real soap.

How does one account for its survival over four centuries? Supposedly the first bay rum emerged from the Virgin Island Saint Thomas in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, a time when modern pharmaceuticals were nonexistent, and colognes were limited to 100% natural flower waters. Albert Heinrich Riise (1810 - 1882), a Danish chemist, stocked his St. Thomas Pharmacy with his own trademarked bay rum, and it gained commercial ground in the European market. Today it exists in many synthetic forms as a symbolic throwback to a bygone era, a relic of Western civilization's encroachment on exotic shores.

When I encounter today's hipsters, with their finely groomed beards and quasi-bouffant quiffs, I wonder if they're familiar with this part of their heritage, or if the iPhone age has overlooked bay rums. Amazingly, Lustray still offers theirs. It's an awful, cheap, fleeting phantom of a compound, only slightly oily, which doubles as aftershave and hair tonic. For five seconds you get a whisper of bay leaf and spiced booze, and it's gone (you might glean thirty seconds if you apply generously to hair). I'm fairly certain that this is the worst bay rum sold today, but hey, it's four bucks for fourteen ounces, and it works well on hot days. I can't complain.

1 comment:

  1. As my dad is a native of Louisiana- Bay Rum, Florida Water, & Hoyt's are forever linked in my mind with voodoo hoodoo.
    Hoyt's is supposed to bring luck while BR & FW are for 'conjuring.'


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