A Discovery at MiN New York: PURITY OF THE GENERATIONS – ALVAREZ GOMEZ- The Scent of Spain

10 Mar

Text, Vivian Kelly

Relaxing in a cafe in Madrid

One of my fondest memories growing up as a teen in Greenwich was when we left New England to go and spend summers in Spain. I couldn’t wait to feel the warm Andalusian sun, hear the music pouring out of open windows in the streets and smell the delicious food, loaded with rosemary and garlic being served in the outdoor cafes. Spain was vibrant and exciting, because as MiN New York’s Levi Pharaoh said, “Spanish people live to live”.

Levi Pharaoh at MiN New York, taking us on a tour of the apothecary

A recent trip to the MiN New York Apothecary brought back memories of Spain.

MiN New York, interior

Maybe things have changed some with the advent of cell phones and technology – how could they not? Nonetheless, when Levi pulled-out a strip of paper and sprayed on “Alvarez Gomrez’s Agua de Colonia Concentrada, I was sent reeling back in time, to when I was 10 years old and my Mother’s fellow-Grad student, [Juan de something or other], babysat me while she attended class at the University of Madrid The “babysitting” consisted of our ambling over to the local student bar and me getting to drink a giant café con leche and watching the gorgeous American and Spanish female students flirt with Juan in halter tops, super skinny bell bottoma and cork wedge platforms. Everyone smelled delicious. I was too young to ask but hey, they were probably wearing Alvarez Gomez Colonia Concentrada.

Alvarez Gomez Madrid's legendary Agua de Colonia Concentrada

The scent is pure Spain and Levi filled me in with the story of how this fragrance came to be.

The Story!

Cousins, Herminio Alvarez Gómez and Emilio Vuelta Gómez founded Alvarez Gomez in 1899. Both were born in Leon (“Lion”in English), a city in middle northwest Spain.  To this day, the Lion is the symbol of Alvarez Gomez and graces the bright yellow labels.

Alvarez Gómez began as a store in Madrid that curated a mix of products from skin care, creams, complements and jewelry. It became a one-stop hub where people from around Europe would meet and socialize, attracting a diverse crowd of enthusiasts from politicians, businessmen, actors, to bull fighters and commercial travelers.

One commercial traveler in particular was an unknown German man who brought with him a new formula for a Cologne. The two cousins Herminio and Emilio observed the new formula and quickly added vital ingredients that represented Spain: a selection of Mediterranean elements, rosemary, lavender, geranium and lemon. The result was the now Spanish home staple “Agua de Colonia Concentrada.” The cologne was an instant success.

Today, Rafael Rodriguez Vuelta, nephew of Emilio Vuelta Gómez Alvarez Gomez now helms the brand. Rafael turned the once mixed store in 1951 to exclusively selling Alvarez Gomez. It is Spain’s flagship perfumery and a hot tourist destination in Madrid.


I’ve been showering with the Agua de Colonia Concentrada soap Levi sent me home with.

Alvarez Gomez Madrid Soap - an essential for anyone's toiletry case

I’m hooked. I won’t be in Spain until this November to visit friends in Barcelona, but in the meantime, I’m happy with my daily little bit of Espana courtesy of A.G. Once there, a trip to the Madrid boutique is on my itinerary. I’ve already blocked-out a section of my big Samsonite to stock-up.


MiN New York Apothecary & Atelier

117 Crosby Street, NYC

tel: 212-206-6366


One Response to “A Discovery at MiN New York: PURITY OF THE GENERATIONS – ALVAREZ GOMEZ- The Scent of Spain”

  1. stove repair orange county April 6, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Gràcies per les coses bones

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