Cheap and Cheerful: Agua de Colonia Concentrada by Alvarez Goméz

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

Well kiddies, this one is thanks, and in response to, a comment on a post on my review of Penhaligon’s Castile. Commenter alityke mentioned that they had returned from holiday on an island off the Spanish coast (jealous, Tom? Why no, I always gnash my teeth like that..) They wrote that one of the locals turned them on to this little gem as a readily available alternative to Castile, so of course I had to investigate. They wrote that it was available likely at Latino supermarkets or drugstores in LA, which it may be. But I am no longer at The August Times (and The August Times decamped from Times Mirror Square downtown for the wilds of El Segundo years ago) so the local bodega is no longer on the way to the bus. Plus I pay for Prime, so I am going to get my last dimes worth out of it (Consolidate shipping to save packaging? No. I want each of those paper clips individually wrapped and shipped. All 200 of them. I’ll recycle the packaging, thanks.)

$30 and a few days later I had a 150ML bottle unsniffed. Heck, worse comes to worse it’s room spray, right?

Well, it’s not room spray. It’s not really Castile either, at least not a clone. It starts, and stays on me as delicious lemon: alternating from tart and juicy to almost candied. Eureka, Lisbon, Meyer: with juice, peel and pith and a sprinkling of those tart, sweet, crunchy, screaming yellow lemon candies that I adore. Not a whiff of Pledge in there to ruin it. If you love lemon then welcome to Lemon Heaven and tell them alityke sent you.

After a while the aspects of Castile do turn up with soapy lavender and spices and they’re nice, but you know what? I could have happily stayed in the lemon grove all day. Luckily, since it’s available in sizes up to nearly a quart, you won’t have to worry about respraying and running out.

Agua de Colonia Concentrada by Alvarez Goméz is available at Amazon in sizes ranging from 150 (out of stock- the one I got) to 750ML for $72. It is certainly a reason to visit your local Latin grocer, as if there weren’t reasons enough. I purchase mine from Evil Amazon.

Super thanks to commenter alityke for the tip; you guys are the best!

  • March says:

    Oooooh! This sounds wonderful! And they’re not corner bodegas but I definitely have places I could look here…

  • Musette says:

    ooooh! I do love me a bodega! When I used to spend Febs in PV I would go to the local grocery, stock up on things like Percocet (oh, glee) and perfumes I couldn’t get in the States. I would also buy something for that week’s wedding couple, to show my appreciation for the Percocet.

    I love everything lemon (except Lemon Pledge) so this sounds like a WIN!

    Thanks, Tom. And thanks, Alityke!!!


    • Musette says:

      btw, those aguas are always so fresca! My tias were always awash in Florida Water!!!
      Even the more synthetic ones have that ‘cheap and cheerful’ Summer vibe that makes me happy!


      • Tom says:

        I loved Florida Water- I really miss having that little shop right there, along with Grand Central Market. Sadly the latter has been yuppified so much that I don’t think I’d be catering for $20 for cheaps anymore and I am not at all sure all those “cheap and cheerful” shops are still there..

    • Tom says:

      You can tell how LA bound I am that I read this and wondered “where the hell is she buying Percoset over the counter in Palos Verdes?!?!?

  • rosarita says:

    This sounds great, I love lemon in perfume. I’m here in the midst of this week’s “snowpocalypse”, dreaming of summer.

    • Musette says:

      A – I laughed/snarled this morning when I asked that vicious cow, Alexa, to play my playlist – and the bitch started out with Shirley Horn’s lush rendition of ‘Estate’ (Summer in Portuguese).

      Vicious cow. I know that echo was laughing up her sleeve.


    • Tom says:

      There’s nothing better in the middle of summer to add a dash of hot-weather zing!

  • cinnamon says:

    Interesting. The first bottle of perfume I ever bought was Love’s Fresh Lemon. This sounds like it has a bit more oomph. The cheap-but-cheerful I’ve never tried is Caldey Island Lavender (by the monks on Caldey Island which is off the coast of Wales). I’m just not a lavender perfume person but The Perfume Guide gave it 5 stars I think. And 28ml is under £20…

  • Alityke says:

    Well that came as a surprise! Really pleased you enjoyed it.No need to gnash teeth we had three Calimas (Saharan sand fog) whilst there.

    The waitress was halfway through her shift so was probably at the orange blossom Castile end of the wear.
    It is good stuff though isn’t it? Even babies wear it in Spain. Actually I wonder if Chanel …. No best not say that.
    I have no idea if US Amazon carry all the toiletries as well. I haven’t tried them but they might be worth a punt. In fact I have birthday funds to spend and might just go treat myself to some Spanish cologne soaps.

  • Portia says:

    WOW Tom,
    This sounds fabulous.
    Exactly what I need in the startlingly humid Sydney summer 2022. We normally are fairly LA about our rain but this year we are getting truckloads. When it’s not raining it’s STEAMING.
    Actually it’s quite nice, except when I have to become a Drag Queen. Bit sweaty for all that slap.
    Did you ever try DIOR Granville? It’s a lemony adventure too.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      Nope, never have. I wish, though. I am woefully behind on things..

      Actually getting rain in buckets is quite the LA thing- like “Sunset Boulevard.” We tend to get it all at once in a few weeks, sending hillsides and expensive homes downslope into different zip codes. We just haven’t had an “El Niño” year recently..

      • Musette says:

        T – that is the one thing I Do. Not. Miss. I remember being 2 cars behind a red light at Channel & Ocean… suddenly there was this rumble… and a good-sized ball of mudslide came rolling down Channel, through the intersection.. luckily Red Light, so nobody was hurt but.. yeah. No, thanks!


        • Tom says:

          I never actually got caught in one, but the course of Laurel Canyon has changed more than a few times between Mulholland and Sunset in the times I have been here, and Benedict up by Mulholland was a bit rocky this past Sunday..