Vin Mariani — The Cocaine Wine,
In 1863 a French chemist named Angelo Mariani came up with a special type of Bordeaux wine that was marketed to restore health, energy, strength, and vitality. Called “Vin Tonique Mariani” the wine became very popular during its time, with many famous drinkers such as Queen Victoria, Ulysses S. Grant, Pope Pius X, and Thomas Edison. Another famous follower was His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, who was such a big fan of the wine he carried a hip flask full of it everywhere he went. He even awarded a Vatican Gold Medal to Mariani and did advertising endorsements of the wine. So what was so special about Mariani’s wine, and why was it so popular?
Mariani took regular Bordeaux wine and allowed coca leaves to soak in for a period of time. The alcohol of the wine acted as a solvent which extracted cocaine from the leaves, giving the wine a cocaine content of around 7.2 milligrams per ounce.
Due to rising demand and popularity, many other companies began to make imitation brands. One such brand was Pemberton’s French Wine Coca made by the pharmacist John S. Pemberton. Situated in Atlanta, Pemberton took the Vin Mariani recipe and added the essence of kola nut. In 1885 Atlanta County passed prohibition ordnances banning the production or sale of alcohol. As a result Pemberton reworked his recipe by replacing the wine with carbonated water. The result was a new beverage called Coca Cola.