An Unusual Corsican Botanical Remedy

Jan 14, 11:23 AM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Corsica is the source of many fine quality botanicals, including what are arguably the world's best essential oils. The island has also produced some very quirky natives, including Napoleon Bonaparte and Dr. Angelo Mariani.

Mariani was a chemist who was among the first to isolate cocaine from coca leaves. In the 1860s, he blended it with wine from his vineyards. The resulting beverage, known as Dr. Mariani's French Tonic or Vin Mariani, quickly became quite the rage among the elite of Europe. It was praised by many celebrities of the day, including Thomas Edison, Auguste Rodin, Queen Victoria and President William McKinley. Kings, emperors and popes ordered Vin Mariani by the case. Mariani was even awarded a gold medal by Pope Leo XIII for his contribution to "lifting the spirits." The Pope received a discount on his purchases, and in turn, lent his portrait to a poster promoting the wine.

The wild popularity of Vin Mariani led an enterprising American to develop a competing non-alcoholic beverage... Coca-Cola.

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