Inspired by one of Hollywood’s top actresses during Prohibition, the Mary Pickford cocktail is a tasty tipple that has passed the test of time. It’s also easy to craft with just a handful of ingredients.
Move over Dirty Shirley! We have a new favorite cocktail that’s named after another 20th century actress. It’s also sweet and has a homespun yet sophisticated appeal.
What Is The Mary Pickford Cocktail?
The Mary Pickford cocktail is crafted with two liquors (white rum and maraschino liqueur), pineapple juice and grenadine syrup. A maraschino cherry garnish completes the classic cocktail.
It’s also a cocktail with a history as colorful as its namesake.
History Of The Mary Pickford Cocktail
Born Gladys Smith in Canada, Mary Pickford was so popular in Hollywood that she acquired a third name – America’s Sweetheart. She won an Oscar, married Douglas Fairbanks and co-founded United Artists with Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith.
Ironically, her many accomplishments didn’t include inventing the cocktail with her name.
That mixology honor most likely goes to a New York bartender working at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Legend has it that Eddie Woelke crafted the cocktail for Pickford when the mega-star traveled to Havana, along with Chaplin and Fairbanks, during the roaring 20s.
But let’s be real. A Vanity Fair article proved that Pickford, Chaplin and Fairbanks never traveled to Cuba during that decade. However, like most cocktail legends, it’s a story worth retelling.
Despite the Mary Pickford’s questionable origin, there’s no question that the cocktail gained notoriety when it appeared in Basil Woon’s 1928 book When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba and in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book two years later. It quickly gained fame thanks to its name, color and recipe.
The cocktail has evolved over the past century. Its original recipe included just three ingredients – white Bacardi rum, fresh pineapple juice and a dash of grenadine. Over time, maraschino liqueur was added to the mix and the ingredient ratio shifted. Plus, many bartenders no longer use fresh pineapple juice.
But some things have remained the same – the Mary Pickford drink is still pink and it tastes as delightful as ever
The Mary Pickford cocktail doesn’t require any unique ingredients despite its storied past. These are the only required items:
We channeled the original recipe by using Bacardi Carta Blanca rum. Now distilled in Puerto Rico, this popular rum has a 37.5% ABV. However, your favorite white rum will work well too.
Discover our favorite rum cocktails.
Luxardo produces our preferred maraschino liqueur which should be no surprise since we’re obsessed with the Italian company’s maraschino cherries.
We initially bought a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur, which has a 32% ABV, to craft Hemingway Daiquiris and have since used it to craft cocktails like the Aviation, Brooklyn, Martinez and Last Word. We can now add the Mary Pickford to this eclectic cocktail list.
Discover our favorite maraschino liqueur cocktails.
We recommend using grenadine syrup produced by Monin. This French company doesn’t add any artificial colors or flavors to its bright red pomegranate syrup which makes it better than other commercial grenadine syrups.
Discover our favorite grenadine cocktails.
How to Craft A Mary Pickford Cocktail
Once you gather the Mary Pickford’s bar tools and ingredients, the first step is to measure the white rum and pineapple juice with a jigger. We use a Japanese jigger for this step to ensure clean, accurate pours.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Immediately pour the rum and juice directly into a shaker. We use a Boston shaker in this and other recipes both for ease of use and tidiness.
Measure the grenadine and maraschino liqueur with a measuring spoon and pour each into the same shaker.
Add ice and shake until the ingredients are chilled and combined – approximately 20 seconds.
Once shaken, the drink will be frothy thanks to the pineapple juice.
Strain the shaken ingredients into a coupe glass.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Pause to admire the Mary Pickford’s pretty pink color. It’s a stunner!
Feel free to experiment with the Mary Pickford recipe. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Mary Pickford cocktail is a Prohibition cocktail named after a famous actress of that era.
The Mary Pickford cocktail was invented in Havana. However, the namesake actress was not in Cuba when the classic cocktail was invented.
White Rum, Maraschino Liqueur, Grenadine, Pineapple Juice, Ice Cubes (for shaking) and a Maraschino Cherry (garnish)
The Mary Pickford cocktail is shaken, not stirred.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
Mary Pickford Recipe
- Pour white rum, pineapple juice, grenadine and maraschino liqueur into a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and shake vigorously until liquids are chilled and mixed – approximately 20 seconds.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: July 6, 2023