On this date in 1979, the actress Mary Pickford passed away. During the 1920s, “America’s Sweetheart’, she was described as “the best known woman who has ever lived, the woman who was known to more people and loved by more people than any other woman that has been in all history.” It is not surprising then that when visiting Havana one year with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, one of the bartenders at the Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel created a cocktail in her honour.
Mary Pickford Cocktail
50ml White Cuban Rum
40ml Pressed, unsweetened Pineapple Juice
5ml Dry Maraschino Liqueur
Shake well and strain into a chilled coupette
Garnish with a maraschino cherry and pineapple leaves (optional)
It was probably during a 1922 trip to Cuba that the Mary Pickford Cocktail originated. “We lunched with the Hicklings at the Sevilla, well, off red snapper and heart of palm salad, with a Mary Pickford cocktail” was cited in print in 1926. It also gets a mention in When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba (1928) by Basil Woon – “The Mary Pickford, invented during a visit to Havana of the screen favorite by Fred Kaufman, is two-thirds pineapple-juice and one-third bacardi, with a dash of grenadine”. Fred Kaufman was a British bartender who worked at the, then called, Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel.
It is often said that the cocktail was invented at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba but as we have documented evidence of the drink’s existence in 1926 and the Nacional didn’t open until the end of 1930, this cannot be possible. The hotel does have it’s own signature cocktail, the Hotel Nacional Special which also uses Rum and pineapple juice.
Thanks to Anistatia for putting me on the correct path when things got a little confusing!