Vivary – Recipe from the ‘Old Waldorf Bar Guide’


Dash of Orange Bitters

One-third Italian Vermuth

Two-thirds Vin Mariani

Stir; strain 



Dash of Orange Bitters 

One-half Italian Vermuth 

One-half French Vermuth 

One dash Absinthe 


Yes there are two recipes above, today’s was the Vivary, but the Vin Mariani caught my eye.

Vin Mariani is no longer available, so it’s fairly impossible to make this top drink, but its got a wonderful little story behind it so I thought I’d focus on this.

Vin Mariani was invented by an Angelo Mariani in 1863, and soon gained prominence amongst the ruling classes throughout Europe, with Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Edison and three Popes all being fans of the liquid. It spread to the newly formed USA where plenty of spinoffs soon gained ground as the recipe was fairly simple to reproduce being 5 Parts Bordeaux to one-part cocaine.

A John Pemberton in Atlanta decided on a copy, he was a bit of an entrepreneur and had recently cured his own addiction to morphine with the dubious help of cocaine. He launched a creatively named ‘French Wine Coca’ which sold very well. However in 1885 Atlanta started flirting with prohibition, worried that a key ingredient would soon be criminalised he removed the wine, added extract of Kola nut and soda water, and voila, Coca Cola was invented. Initially the French Wine Coca outsold Coca Cola by almost 720 bottles per day (surprise.), within 25 years however every man woman and child in the United States was consuming 27L per annum (today it’s 96L).

Vin Mariani and other Coca wines were available right up until 1914 when cocaine finally became illegal, so it’s a little strange to see this crop up in a book from 1931, I’d love to think the Waldorf, that bastion of all that’s good and great about New York still had enough bottles of this kicking around in a back room to innocently keep serving this ‘cocktail’.

So how was the Vivary? Not bad at all, most vermouth cocktails like this lack enough bite to make them interesting for long, the absinthe and bitters deliver this beautifully to give it enough of an edge to cut through the sweetness of the vermouth and make it an ideal aperitif, I’d definitely have another.