The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library

Mariani and Company

Illustrated Handbill Advertising Vin Mariani

Vin Mariani was a tonic and patent medicine created in 1863. The alcohol in wine was used to extract the active ingredient from coca leaves. The version formulated for export to the U.S. increased the cocaine to wine ratio to compete with other popular U.S. drinks, such as Coca-Cola, which itself was partially inspired by the popularity of the coca-wine being made in France. Angelo Mariani, the creator of the wine, has been called “the world’s first cocaine millionaire.” The wine used attractive and aggressive marketing and claimed it would restore health, strength, energy, and vitality.

The company fought hard to keep its U.S. market in the face of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, but was finally abolished in the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. Vin Mariani is still made today with coca, but the ecgonine alkaloid that causes the addictive and stimulating properties are removed, similar to modern Coca-Cola.