Gifting a guy you know one of the best men’s colognes on the market has longevity and significance. Even if he wears the scent on a daily basis, it will last three to six months, and a seasonal or mood-specific scent can last up to two years. More importantly, he’ll have you to thank for all of the compliments he receives, and the confidence it gives him with each spritz.
But the trick is finding a fragrance he’ll actually want to wear—one that doesn’t cast a polarizing radius, while also suiting his personality and sensibilities. And unless you ask him directly, you have to take a wild guess at which scent to gift, a move as risky as phoning it in and buying a department-store bargain fragrance.
Allow us to help: The 20 men’s colognes below are all universal favorites, and highly rated among customers and fragrance enthusiasts. We’ll “prescribe” the occasion or guy that each one suits best, to help you pick a scent he’ll cherish. (And if you’re gifting a scent to yourself, well, you also came to the right place.)
The editors of Robb Report scour the globe (and the Internet) for the best of the best and only endorse products we love—and think you’ll love, too. If you purchase a product or service through a link in this story, we may receive a small commission.
Moncler Pour Homme
The newest scent on this list, Moncler Pour Homme is not only a good scent to gift, but it’s also a fun one. If you buy the 5 oz. bottle, you can download the accompanying app and personalize a scrolling LED message. (Refills cost $60 less and you keep the original shell.) But more importantly, it’s a damn good scent, too: Alpine greens and clary sage keep it refreshing, while mountain pines, vetiver and cypress give it heft. It’s a top-shelf pick for the first-time scent wearer, or for the classy guy who also appreciates cheek.
Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme
Perhaps the easiest win on this list, L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme is a low investment with high reward. He’ll wear this yuzu lemon, cinnamon and sandalwood scent even if he’s averse to fragrance—and it’ll make him exactly zero enemies in the process. It wears light, reverbs with crisp, fresh notes and won’t break his bank when he orders a refill. Get it for the scent skeptic, and then keep it for yourself if he’s just too stubborn to please. (We bet it’ll convert him, though.)
Hermès Terre d’Hermès Eau Intense Vetiver
Terre D’Hermès Eau Intense Vetiver is like a Double Stuf Oreos version of the original Terre D’Hermès. They dialed the vetiver way up in this one, but not in a way that feels intense to those nearby. The result is pure joy, with bergamot and sichuan peppers garnishing the woody base. Gift it to the serial dater—even if he’s serially dating the same person. It lightens the mood and invites conversation.
Aesop is finally getting the love it deserves for its fragrance collection (please also consider its luxurious Othertopias trio which launched this fall). Our favorite of the brand’s lineup, though, is Rozu for its heavenly rose-y body, peppered and anchored with shiso, wood and smoke. It suits a calm, grounded disposition—someone whose presence people find comforting.
Buy Now (Saks Fifth Avenue): $180
Krigler Sylt Style 2202
Sylt Style 2202 is soft and smooth, like the cashmere essence it emits and the gourmand notes that give it character. Vanilla and hazelnut steer the ship, while amber, and pink and black pepper give it sophistication. He’ll need to appreciate vanilla in order to wear this one, but that’s Sylt Style’s power: It’s perhaps the finest, most universal expression of the note that we’ve encountered, and will complement any Out of Office notice, and the guy who exudes enviable, laidback perma-leisure.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris Baccarat Rouge 540 Extrait de Parfum
A powerful but sweet potion, this highly concentrated extrait de parfum will last all the day long, even on a simple spray or two. (Don’t spray on any more than that, honestly. It’s virulent, in the best way.) It’s a marriage of jasmine blossom, cedar, musk, bitter almond and ambergris, resulting in something sweet, savory, and magnetic. Gift it to a man in charge—not the macho alpha dog, but the executive whose door stays open to all employees and new ideas.
Tom Ford Ombré Leather
Many leather fragrances skew toward the aggressively masculine, but this one straddles the middle ground. It leads with heady leather as well as an arousing show from patchouli and vetiver, but Ombré Leather has a softer side, expressed with violet and jasmine dashes. Still, it’s a seasonal or evening wear, since it warms like a leather jacket. Gift it to a plus one for date night, or the guy who wants to attract a temporary plus one over a nightcap.
Zegna Florentine Iris
Florentine Iris has an invigorating effect on the senses, and manages to deliver three expressions of iris without smelling overly powdery. Instead, its violet, musk, and jasmine notes stir like caffeine, while bergamot gives it a crisp punch at the onset. Gift this to someone who needs a versatile work-to-evening fragrance, and one that suggests contentedness.
Gucci Gloaming Night
Powered by patchouli, this truly special scent should be on every bed stand. A simple huff on a bad day is instant aromatherapy—and anyone in the wearer’s orbit will feel gratitude for the hit. While patchouli gives it medicinal magic, notes of cinnamon and vetiver add body and grit. Honestly, you should buy this for yourself, regardless of your personality and predilections—or for the guy whose social calendar is alive and well.
Le Labo Bergamote 23
Bergamote 22 is playful and intelligent, brightened with crisp bergamot and fresh petitgrain, embellished by musk and amber and flourished with bitter grapefruit. It’s the perfect scent for one’s late 20s and early 30s—the mid-career guy with limitless potential in at work and off the clock. He works hard for the money, but maaaaybe spends it just as hard.
Louis Vuitton Imagination
One of 2021’s best cologne launches, Imagination instantly landed in the fragrance stratosphere for its uplifting and mind-opening blend of amber and black tea. Bergamot, neroli and cedar broaden its wingspan, and together make Imagination a candidate for his new signature scent. It’s especially suited for guys with big ideas and—as its name suggests—colorful imaginations. Consider it wanderlust, bottled.
Another fabulous patchouli, Misfit won The Fragrance Foundation’s award for Best Indie Scent this year, and deservedly. But for an indie scent, it has incredible mass appeal—probably the most centered, balanced blend on this list. That earthy patchouli is lightened with lavender, grounded by balsam and steadied with tonka. Gift it to anyone, honestly. Anyone encountering the wearer will share in their splendor.
Creed Aventus Cologne
Few fragrances can stand out by existing in the shadows of their predecessor—but that’s the calling card of Aventus Cologne. It’s a fresher, lighter spin on the Aventus name—the 2010 original is an Adonis in the perfume pantheon. But in place of Aventus’s scene-stealing pineapple, birch and ambergris recipe, Aventus Cologne offers a softer finish: mandarin, sandalwood and tonka celebrate the wearer’s individuality, instead of defining it. Get it for the freelancer, the entrepreneur or the guy who’s newly single.
Roja Parfums Scandal Pour Homme
This one is seductive; there’s no way around it. With a name like Scandal, you’d expect nothing less, and with notes like moss, lavender, clove and ambergris, you have a recipe for the best kind of trouble. Buy this scent for the secret agent in your life, or, if you don’t know one, get it for the bachelor with bravado. It’s not predatory or anything; instead, it’s alluring, flirtatious, magnetic—a sidekick in a bottle.
While everyone and his brother wears Bleu de Chanel, there’s another classic scent from the brand waiting in the wing: ÉGOÏSTE is broody and sensual, with coriander, sandalwood, ambrette seed and vanilla bringing out their best and baddest. It goes without saying who you’ll buy this one for, just make sure he uses its ego-boosting power for good and not evil.
Yves Saint Laurent Y Le Parfum
Geranium is the headliner in Yves Saint Laurent’s most potent “Y” formula yet; it’s supported by a cast of woody, sweet, crisp and spicy notes—something for everyone. This one invites mischief, playfulness and endless nights. Get it for the guy emerging from his Covid-induced shell who wants to make up for lost time in a big way.
Worn leather tethers to cedar and sandalwood in Malin+Goetz’s fabulously uncomplicated concoction, which gives the wearer a sweet, sexy and approachable aura. We find it a nice talking point too—not enough people know that Malin+Goetz makes (terrific) fragrances. (Cannabis, you get a silver medal.) Get this for a man about town; it’s every bit as dazzling as his life.
Givenchy Gentleman Boisee
It’s hard to keep all of these Givenchy Gentleman scents straight—they all share a name, but showcase different personalities. (We’d tell you to buy one of each, but that’s a little excessive.) If you can only pick one, make it this EDP, Gentleman Boisee. It carries a spicy, peppery and powdery lead, with an undercurrent of coriander and smoky, burning wood. It suits the sensitive man well, someone in tune with the multitudes he contains.
Richard James Blade of Grass
The simplicity of fresh cut grass, minus the noise of lawn mowers. This scent is green through and through: green tea, rosemary, cedar, patchouli and vetiver all contribute to the beautiful, spring-like finish. (Almost like a fresh gin and tonic, savored on said freshly mowed lawn.) Get this for the guy who keeps his workday scent separate from his weekend wear. (It’s for the latter.)
Orpheon is an easy scent to prescribe: It’s reminiscent of Paris’s revelrous Saint Germain quarter, a mélange of powder, tobacco and woody notes. Give it to the bon vivant and forever-young spirit. He’ll wear it smart, sophisticated, or subversively—Orpheon applies in any situation, and its flame never falters.