Vintage Cocktails: The Mary Pickford

Categories: Booze

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1937 copy of La Florida recipe book
Last week I told you about the La Florida Bar in Havana, Cuba, "la catedral del Daiquiri."

This week's drink comes from a brittle 1937 copy of that bar's recipe book, which was found at a flea market. The book is old enough that each recipe is in both Spanish and English, and the phone number for the bar is only four digits long. It's also full of ads for things like Golden Wedding American Whiskey, and RCA Victrola and Palmolive soap (7¢ a bar!).

My cocktail of choice comes from the same era, and though it's not unique to the Cuban bar, the key ingredient is rum. The Mary Pickford was supposedly named after the silent film star because the drink's golden color matched her curly locks.

La Florida's version goes like this:

  • 1/2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz Bacardi
  • 1/2 teaspoon Grenadine
  • crushed ice

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

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Mary Pickford
And now a word about ingredients. I prefer to use fresh pineapple juice. To juice a pineapple, I use a pineapple corer (one of the few unitaskers I own), put the pineapple rings in the blender, and then strain some of the pulp off the resulting mash. I like to do it this way because you can then use the pineapple hull as a drinking vessel, either right away, or freezing it for later. But you can just as easily juice freshly cut pineapple from Kroger, Spec's or Fiesta, which is about the same price as a full pineapple. For the love of Castro, please don't use canned pineapple. Your drink will be far too sweet.

It's for that same reason that I loathe traditional grenadine, like the Rose's brand, which even in small amounts makes drinks feel and taste syrupy. Instead I used Sonoma Pomegranate Simple Syrup. And because I also loathe Bacardi, I used Cruzan. The result was a smooth, lightly sweet drink. Though it lacked complexity of flavor, it was still a plenty refreshing way to cap off the night.

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