Vin Tonique Mariani (empty)

An extremely rare bottling for the US: On loan from Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller since July 2008. The liquid is separated from age. Based on the back label, this is a post-1906 bottling of formula developed for the American market.

Angelo Mariani, was born Ange-François Mariani on December 17th, 1838, within a wealthy family of doctors and pharmacists in Corsica. There is little known about his early years, before he ultimately became widely known as the inventor of the Vin Tonique Mariani, ancestor of the Coca-Cola, and the first French cocaine millionaire! But in 1859, he moved to Paris to work as a chemist. That's when Mariani became intrigued with Paolo Mantegazza's studies of the coca plant and its leaves. Albert Niemann's naming and isolation of cocaine fascinated him.

In 1863, at the youthful age of 25, Mariani marketed a patent medicine called Vin Tonique Mariani la Coca de Perou. Based on Bordeaux wine infused with three varietals of coca leaves in the bottle, le Vin Tonique Mariani was immediately applauded as a an ideal stomach stimulant, an analgesic on the air passages and vocal chords, appetite suppressant, anti-depressant, and treatment against anemia. Two or three claret-glassfuls daily to be taken 30 minutes before or immediately after a meal were the recommended dose. Each fluid ounce contained 6 milligrams of the active ingredient, cocaine.

Mariani did not stop with a simple success. From his laboratory in Neuilly-sur-Seine, he also developed Elixir Mariani, a spirits-based version with three times the active ingredient. Next, he made Pate Mariani and Pastilles Mariani, intended to strengthen the vocal chords. Gargles, sprays, and a tea infusion were next. But none of them received half the attention of Vin Tonique Mariani. Kings and queens, popes and presidents, scientists and inventors, writers and dancers loved Vin Tonique Mariaini. Leon XIII, Pie X, La Reine du Portugal, Le Roi d'Espagne, Le Prince de Bulgarie, La Reine de Roumanie, Le Roi du Cambodge, le Président des Etats-Unis Mc Kinley, L'ambassadeur de l'Empereur de Chine, Raymond Poincaré, Anatole France, Felix Faure, Maurice Bertheaux, Thomas Edison, Alexandre Dumas, Sarah Bernhardt, Jules Verne, HG Wells, Emile Zola, Loïe Fuller, Auguste et Louis Lumière, Edmond Rostand, Louise Michel, Auguste Rodin, Louis Blériot, Georges Feydeau, Jules Renard, Puvis de Chavanne, Georges Courteline, Octave Mirbeau, Eugene Grasset, Henri Martin, Henrik Ibsen, Le préfet Poubelle, René Bazin, Jules Simon, Leon Bloy, Mucha, Odilon Redon, Cécile Sorel, Emile Loubet… Testimonies filled 15 leather-bound published volumes.

Success always incites competition. Copycat products were born: Coca des Incas and Vin des Incas.

In 1884, pharmacist John S Pemberton launched Pemberton's French Coca Wine in Atlanta, Georgia. Another overnight success would have been in the making, if it hadn't contained wine. The Klu Klux Klan forcefully lobbied for prohibition in Atlanta. The law was enacted in 1885. Pemberton was pressed to reformulate his product, replacing wine with cola extract and soda. Coca-Cola was born.

The high cocaine content of Pemberton's product as well as other American competitors forced Mariani to increase his dosage to 7.2 mg per ounce for US export. Mariani opened an office at 52 West 15th Street in New York to protect his interests.

The century turned and became apparent to many in Europe and the US, that cocaine addiction was a very real, very serious hazard. Coca-Cola was forced to denature its coca extract in 1904. Two years later, the Pure Food and Drug Act forced Mariani to claim there was no cocaine, only coca leaves in his product. The curtain closed on American sales of Vin Tonique Mariani with the passage of the 1914 Harrison Act that further controlled the sale of any product containing coca leaves or cocaine.

It made little difference to Angelo Mariani. That same year, 3 months before the outbreak of the First World War, the chemist died, taking the secret of his marvelous wine with him. He's buried at the Cemetary of the Père Lachaise, in Paris.

If you have any further information on this particular product, please email Anistatia Miller at

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