Another blogger did a piece on the Mary Pickford recently, and called it a proto-tiki drink. Despite its rum-and-pineapple juice base, I’ve never thought of it in this way, although I certainly do place many other classic Prohibition-era cocktails in that category. I think, for me, the presence of maraschino in the Mary Pickford gives it a more old-fashioned flavor that I simply don’t associate with tiki. Probably just splitting hairs – but in any case, this is a remarkable cocktail, and one of the most commonly served over here at the old Stuart place. It’s also the signature house drink (although they call it, if memory serves, the Queen Mary, which makes sense as this bar is a replica of one that was on that famous ship) at the Cruise Room bar in Denver, inside the Oxford Hotel. The Cruise Room opened in 1934, the day after repeal took effect, and is essentially unchanged since. It has to be one of the grooviest bars in the world, and is my personal favorite. In fact, it’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Denver. Check this place out:
Anyway, the Mary Pickford, named, obviously, after the famous actress, is a fairly well-known drink, and you can find numerous recipes for it with minor variations, but all stick to the same basics – a 1:1 ratio of rum and pineapple juice, and a bit of grenadine and maraschino. Here’s how I make it:
1 1/2 ounces white rum (Oronoco is a favorite here)
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice (canned is fine, but fresh-squeezed, while a pain, is better)
1 dash maraschino liqueur
1 tsp. grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Ok, truth be told, I almost always double these. Because they are that good. The pineapple and rum, of course, go very well together, and with white rum, the pineapple flavor dominates. The grenadine mostly just adds a touch of sweetness, but the real key here is the maraschino, which lends a whole new complexity to what would otherwise be more or less a pineapple daiquiri. The bitterness of the liqueur balances out the sweetness of the juice and grenadine, giving the whole thing a good blast of the characteristic earthiness of maraschino. Five livers, of course, and one of the best examples of how just a touch of a good eau-de-vie can do remarkable things to an otherwise simple drink.