The Mary Pickford is a classic, Prohibition-era cocktail. Made with a mix of rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and maraschino liqueur, this tropical drink is very easy to make, and even easier to drink!
Who was Mary Pickford?
Mary Pickford was a Canadian-American silent film star born Gladys Marie Smith. Pickford was a very popular actress and her successful career led to many decades of work on the business side of filmmaking.
Pickford was known as “the girl with the curls.” Although she’s not as widely known today, Pickford was an important figure in film and a pioneer during the early days of Hollywood.
The history of her cocktail
Her namesake cocktail was apparently created in Cuba, although the details are a bit murky. Some say that it was first made by a bartender named Eddie Woelke, some say it was Fred Kaufman.
According to most sources, the drink was made in Pickford’s honor during a trip she made to the island in the 1920s.
It’s now known that she never visited Cuba during that time frame, but however the cocktail came to be, the Mary Pickford has endured.
The smooth, sweet, pink drink became very popular and was published in the 1928 book When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba by Basil Woon, and then the classic Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock in 1930.
Fresh juice is best
Recipes for the Mary Pickford do vary slightly in proportions and whether or not to include maraschino liqueur, but nearly all of them agree: freshly pressed pineapple juice is a must.
Fresh juices will always have the best flavor, but fresh pineapple can make or break this classic. Fresh pineapple juice has a great balance of sweet and sour, and you need a bit of that extra fresh acidity to balance the added sweetness of the grenadine and maraschino.
To make your own pineapple juice, there are a couple of methods you can try. If you have a juicer, you’re all set, get to it!
But if you’re like me and tossed your old clunky juicer after the (8 million) difficult to wash pieces just wouldn’t get clean anymore, there are other ways.
The easiest is to cut the pineapple into chunks, throw the chunks in a blender, and blend until nice and frothy. Strain out the solids using a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible.
The laziest method, and one I employ on a regular basis, is to cut your fresh pineapple into chunks, and then squeeze them with an elbow-style citrus squeezer. This isn’t efficient, and it can get a little messy, but it’s quick and easy.
This is my fresh pineapple juice hack when making just one or two drinks. It takes no time at all to squeeze out a couple ounces.
Use real grenadine
I love to make my own grenadine and it isn’t hard at all. If you can swirl together a few ingredients in a warm saucepan, you can make grenadine! Get my grenadine recipe.
If you don’t want to make your own, go with a quality brand. Grenadine is made with pomegranate juice and it should be a deep, dark red.
If your grenadine’s ingredient list doesn’t contain any pomegranate or it’s neon in color, it’s not going to help you make quality cocktails.
Real grenadine is sweet, a little tart, and incredibly delicious in drinks like the Jack Rose.
When it comes to the rum, go with a white rum. While the original was probably made with Bacardi, I highly recommend exploring other more flavorful rums.
A great bottle to try is Probitas (known as Veritas outside the US). This unique white rum is made from a blend of column-still and pot-still rums from Foursquare distillery in Barbados and pot-still rum from Hampden Estate in Jamaica.
Other great white rums to try are Plantation 3 Star, Flor de Caña 3 Year, or The Real McCoy 3 Year. As always, these are just some ideas. Use what you enjoy or what you happen to have on hand!
You may also enjoy these other rum cocktails:
Mary Pickford Classic Rum Cocktail
- 2 oz white rum
- 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
- 2 bar spoon real grenadine (about 2 tsp)
- 1 bar spoon Luxardo maraschino liqueur (about 1 tsp)
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it ¾ with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini or coupe glass.
- Garnish with a cocktail cherry and pineapple fronds, if desired.