Vin Mariani

“never has anything been so highly or justly praised.”

A good 20 years before the original cocaine-infused Coca-Cola taught the world to grind its teeth and give ineffectual bathroom-stall handjobs in per•fect har•mo•ny, there was another drink of choice among those wishing to feel invigorated and overconfident for no good reason. It was called “coca wine” and it was loved not only by self-important blowhards wearing too much jewelry but by Kings and Popes and… oh, right. Anyhow, it was called Vin Tonique Mariani (or simply Vin Mariani) was sold as a curative, and in the latter half of the 19th century it was a medicinal, recreational, and marketing powerhouse. To paraphrase J.J. Cale “Czars don’t lie, Popes don’t lie, Queens don’t lie…”

08.09. filed under: design. history. people.


Hey, you said psychonauts!

posted on 08.09 at 02:22 PMJustin


A Head of his time.

I enjoyed.

:::Gee, even mummies?:::

posted on 08.10 at 01:46 PM.


I enjoyed - very much. Thank you!

posted on 08.10 at 02:55 PMExtempore


I wander away for a few days and what do you post on? Vin Mariani! I’ve been throwing this bit of trivia in people’s faces for years! Specifically, the part about Ulysses S. Grant.  A fuller version of the tale appears in “Intoxication” subtitled “Life In Pursuit of Artificial Paradise,” a scolarly yet entertaining book by Ronald K. Siegel, Ph. D., from 1989.

Rereading the passage, I find that I misremembered some details; I thought Mark Twain, Grant’s friend and editor of his memoir, was bringing Grant the Vin Mariani. Though Twain was well familiar with the powers of coca, and tried but failed to sail to Brazil at 19 to go into the cocaine trade, he was not Grant’s supplier. He may have suggested it to the doctors, though.

In a nutshell: Grant, having been an alcoholic while serving as a Civil War general, managed to dial the booze back as President. Instead he smoked an average of 750 cigars (!) a month—or 25 a day—and after retirement got mouth and throat cancer. Topical cocaine worked to numb the diseased areas for a while. The only thing he had to live for at this point, it seems, was writing his memoirs. Twain got him a $10,000 advance and publishing contract which would secure his family’s finances (Twain stood to make big bucks too.)  Grant did not receive Vin Mariani, but its more potent stablemate Thé Mariani mixed with milk, in doses adequate to cause intoxication and dependency, for the last five months of his life. He managed to finish his memoirs, which were a publishing smash. Grant’s estate earned close to half a million dollars. That’s 19th Century dollars, kids.

posted on 08.15 at 09:38 PM.

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