The Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford

A Legend of the Silent Era Makes Itself Heard

By Simon McGoram
Photography by Rob Palmer


Presented by Kass Hill
The Corner House
Bondi Road, Bondi, Sydney

Born in 1892 as Gladys Smith, Mary Pickford – and indeed the cocktail that bears her name – may well have faded from the limelight had it not been for her smart decision to adopt a stage name.  Pickford was a legend of the silent movie era staring in hundreds of movies until her retirement in 1933.

Pickford’s name was the first to ever appear above the title of a movie on bills and promotional material and she raked in the same pay per film as Charlie Chaplin. The American Film Institute have even named her 24th among the greatest female stars of all time.

The drink, whilst its name is memorable, might struggle to make an all star spot amongst the cocktail greats, but made with quality ingredients and care the beverage does have a claim to stardom.

“Pickford’s name was the first to ever appear above the title of a movie on bills and promotional material and she raked in the same pay per film as Charlie Chaplin.”

The Mary Pickford cocktail is a Prohibition classic first appearing in the 1920s at the height of her fame. The cocktail makes its way into in print in the English The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930.

The concoction itself claims Cuban origin with most citing the famous cantinero Constantino Ribalaigua from Floridita in Havana as the creator. The use of pineapple would likely place the drink in tropical climes and the dashes of maraschino do channel another Ribalaigua classic – the Papa Doble. However, the La Florida Cocktail Book (from the Floridita bar) which was reprinted in 1935, with recipes listed in Spanish and English both, strangely omits the maraschino liqueur found in the Savoy Hotel recipe from 1930. Of course the La Florida Cocktail Book is rife with errors and misprints most noticeably the repeated mis-translation of limón verde (lime) simply as ‘lemon’.

The actress Mary Pickford was commonly referred to as ‘America’s Sweetheart’ and as such an omission of marschino liqueur from this concoction really isn’t just. It is recommended that you don’t go overboard on the sweetener however – if you can get you hands on it use fresh pineapple juice or at the very least unsweetened. Real pomegranate grenadine has a tartness not always found in commercial grenadines these days. If you can’t make your own keep an eye out for the Croatian Maraska apple and pomegranate cordial. Then whip yourself up one of these little darlings as raise a toast to this starlet of the silent era.

Mary Pickford

45ml Matuslaem Classico Rum
30ml Pineapple juice
3 Dashes maraschino liqueur
3 Dashes real pomegranate grenadine

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1 Comment
  1. I have always found this drink a bugger to balance but when it happens… Damm tasty! Like Simon says home made and fresh ingredients in this one really do make the difference.

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