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Botot Concentrated Mouthwash
All-natural formula made with anise, ginger, cinnamon and gillyflower. A few drops in warm water makes a bracing and refreshing rinse. Original recipe from 1755. Made in Italy. (more info)
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The royal hygiene of French King Louis XV relied on the perfumes, powders, and elixirs of the time to conceal the consequences of very infrequent bathing. For his royal mouth, Dr. Julien Botot had just the potion: a potent herbal rinse that refreshed, tingled and most importantly for this debauched King — kept his many mistresses from running away in fright and disgust from his bed chamber.
At the time, you pretty much had to be a pig-headed (and eventually be-headed) King to indulge in the morning rinse. The only kind of dental care was an occasional borax scrub with some twigs, which ate away at the enamel on the teeth.
Days after his grandson, Louis XVI, gave Botot the royal endorsement, revolutionaries stormed the Bastille. While the monarchy went down in a series of swift severings, Botot lived on.
This all-natural mouthwash scented with gillyflower (of the clove family), cinnamon, ginger and anise is a refreshing change from the myriad and saccharine variations of mint-on-steroids of modern mouthwashes. Because this comes concentrated instead of pre-mixed with water at the factory, the small glass bottle will last you a long time.
This rinse is about as strong as absinthe, so keep away from children and beware — it’s not a cocktail.
For starters, stir about 12–15 drops in a very small glass of tap water, or for the most kick, use water warmed to the temperature of tea. This elixir is highly concentrated, find the potency you find most refreshing.
Gargle for a minute or so, spit and rinse.
This bacteria-killing alcohol content also makes this flammable, so be careful not to be too close to an open flame when rinsing.
After Julien’s death, the company passed down to his nephew, Francois Botot, who quickly resold it to his sister Marie-Sophie. That’s her cursive on the bottle writing cui fidas vide, or “watch whom you trust,” in Latin. Cryptic tagline, but not a bad mantra to start your day, we suppose.
The mouth rinse, fresh and tingly, contains natural extracts of anise and essences of cinnamon, ginger and gillyflower, a relative of clove. Anise is a flavor typical of France, and the cinnamon, ginger, and gillyflower add an extra note of fragrant earthiness. At 80% volume, or 160 proof, there is indeed alcohol in the rinse — ethanol, to be exact. Just enough to burn off those King Louis XV germs. The recipe hasn’t changed since it received its nod of approval from the Royal Society of Medicine of France, in 1785.
5 fl oz (150 ml)
80% vol (160 proof)