After hours of research and comparison, we’ve collected this definitive list of the best John Varvatos cologne for men — with options for every budget and style.
One of the fashion and fragrance world’s most promising newcomers, John Varvatos has made a significant impact in the 20 years since its founding. Each of the nearly two dozen colognes and perfumes in their catalog is an impressive marriage of classical style, and modern panache.
In this guide, we’ll be covering the five best John Varvatos colognes for mean. Read along, and you’ll learn which colognes are best for different seasons and occasions, as well as the aromatic notes that make each one unique and interesting.
5 Best John Varvatos Cologne For Men 2021
Compared to older perfumery houses, John Varvatos’ selection of fragrances is much more restrained. The five colognes that follow represent the best of the best, though many of the designers other colognes could easily qualify as a favorite for more niche personal tastes.
The namesake cologne for Varvatos’ entire line of fragrances, John Varvatos is an oriental woody style cologne that is both relaxed and sensual. Released in 2004, it’s both one of the earliest examples from the Varvatos catalog and the most enduring. If we could only choose one cologne to exemplify the Varvatos style, this is the one.
A powerfully woodsy set of top notes creates the signature opening for John Varvatos, combining balsam fir with crushed herbs and freshly cut hay. Dry and powdery styrax offsets succulent and sweet dates and caramel in the middle notes, while the entire composition is supported by a luscious base of leather, amber, and vanilla.
Featuring an approachable intensity and moderate longevity, John Varvatos is an excellent all-round cologne that truly shines as a special occasion cologne. Splash some on for date nights, parties, or nights out on the town, and you’ll create an instantly unforgettable impression on anyone you meet.
Top notes of balsam fir, green herbs, tamarind, and hay
Middle notes of dates, caramel, olibanum, and styrax
Base notes of leather, amber, vanilla, and agarwood
Taking the style of the original John Varvatos cologne in an even richer and deeper direction, John Varvatos Vintage is a woody chypre style fragrance with outstanding complexity. It’s exceptionally masculine but not over the top, making it an ideal addition to any man’s cologne collection.
Juicy rhubarb and quince are balanced by basil, fennel, and black peppercorns in Vintage’s top notes, which are complemented nicely by a spicy and floral heart of cinnamon, lavender, jasmine, and crushed green leaves. Vintage’s foundation is its most noticeable aspect, filled with dark and rich scents of tobacco, suede, resinous woods, and a touch of smoky tonka bean.
Despite its strongly masculine tones, John Varvatos Vintage is not an overbearing cologne. Its moderate intensity is matched by a moderate longevity, making it an excellent cologne for daily wear throughout the fall and winter. Don’t be afraid to wear it to the office, then reapply before heading out to a date.
Top notes of rhubarb, quince, black pepper, wormwood, basil, and fennel
Middle notes of cinnamon, juniper berries, lavender, jasmine, orris root, and green leaves
Base notes of tobacco, suede, balsam fir, tonka bean, oakmoss, wood resins, and patchouli
The lightest and most ethereal of all John Varvatos colognes, Artisan is a citrus aromatic style cologne that’s incredibly easy going and approachable. Released in 2009, it has never achieved wide recognition; but in our opinion, it deserves consideration as the best John Varvatos cologne for summer.
Zesty clementine and tangerine are joined by marjoram and thyme in Artisan’s top notes, which are further accentuated by the heart of orange blossom, jasmine, and ginger. This gives the entire cologne a light and airy tendency that is grounded by a welcome addition of musk, wood notes, and amber in the base.
With a light intensity and somewhat short duration, Artisan is just as fleeting as the easygoing days of a summer vacation. If you’re looking for a friendly cologne to wear all through the spring and summer, Artisan is a great match — and especially good for applying after a trip to the gym or game of beach volleyball.
Top notes of clementine, tangerine, marjoram, and thyme
Middle notes of orange blossom, ginger, lavender, and jasmine
Inspired by the hills of Xalapa, Mexico, with its huge groves of citrus and coffee trees, John Varvatos Artisan Pure is an intense example of a citrus style cologne. It was released in 2017 as a more noticeable take on Artisan (featured above), and is a fantastic cologne to wear to summer weddings.
The clementine and herb notes of Artisan Pure mimic the original, but are given a larger presence thanks to the addition of lemon and bergamot peels. Freshly grated ginger finds a perfect match in bitter orange leaves in Artisan Pure’s heart notes, while orris root and musk are encased in resinous amber for the deeper base.
With greater intensity and longer duration than the original Artisan, John Varvatos Artisan Pure seems destined to be a go-to cologne for special occasions in the spring and summer. Wait for the warmest days of the year, and the high citrus tones of this cologne will truly shine.
Top notes of clementine, mandarin orange, lemon, thyme, bergamot, and marjoram
Middle notes of petitgrain and ginger
Base notes of wood resin, musk, orris root, and amber
Inspired by John Varvatos’ return to Detroit, Dark Rebel is advertised with the slogan “from darkness comes light”. It’s an oriental woody style cologne that was released in 2015, and a great example of a long-lasting and intense cologne from Varvatos.
Golden rum and fresh pressed sugarcane mingle with peppery cardamom and clean clary sage in Dark Rebel’s top notes, transitioning slowly and smoothly into a heart of old leather, fir resin, and crushed black peppercorns. A deep and sumptuous base of tobacco, precious woods, and vanilla is accented with juniper berries for a refreshing take on a classically masculine base.
Long lasting and quite intense, Dark Rebel is a standout cologne that could be a daily wear in the fall or winter, or a go-to date night cologne. If you don’t have a thick and rich cologne in your collection, we think Dark Rebel definitely deserves a place there.
Top notes of rum, sugarcane, cardamom, clary sage, and artemisia
Middle notes of leather, fir resin, black pepper, and styrax
Base notes of tobacco, wood resin, castoreum, akigalawood, vanilla, and juniper
Though John Varvatos has only been in the fragrance world for less than two decades, his fragrances are quickly drawing the attention of top perfumers. Just this year, in fact, The Fragrance Foundation gave his JVxNJ Silver Edition the award for Fragrance of the Year — truly impressive for a company with such a short history.
Even without these awards though, the proof of John Varvatos fragrances’ value is in their affordability relative to their quality. Most often featuring complex yet classical compositions and above-average wear times, John Varvatos fragrances are a natural choice for anyone who appreciates fine colognes and perfumes.
Which Is The Best John Varvatos Cologne For Men?
Thanks to its impeccable balance of intensity and restraint, we’re of the opinion that the namesake John Varvatos cologne is the best example of this perfumer’s craft. We love the unabashedly masculine woody top notes, and are incredibly impressed by the deft transition into sweet caramel, oily leather, and resinous amber. It’s a fantastic date night cologne, and receives our highest recommendation.
Alternatively, you could go for the complex and masculine yet not overbearing John Varvatos Vintage, or the fresh and easygoing Artisan. If that’s not quite to your liking, Artisan Pure is a further elaboration on the high citrus style. Lastly, Dark Rebel is a great match for anyone who wants a rich and sensual date night cologne that shows its best side in the fall and winter.