We are proud to present the first of a four-part excerpt series from the most excellent new book, Signature Cocktails.

The Mary Pickford is a classic rum and pineapple forward Cuban sipper invented in 1922 by bartending bon vivant Fred Kaufman, who named the drink after silent film star Mary Pickford. Here is the complete history of the drink as told by Schuster, and how to make it.

Excerpted from Signature Cocktails © 2023 by Amanda Schuster. Photography © 2023 by Andy Sewell. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.


YEAR: 1922
ORIGIN: Havana, Cuba
INVENTOR: Fred Kaufman
PREMISES: Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel

Though not technically a cocktail writer, the British journalist and playwright Basil Woon was so infatuated by the confluence of personalities in 1920s Cuban cocktail culture, that it inspired him to write When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba. Rather than being a straightforward cocktail book, it chronicles his observations of the buzzy scene in its heyday.

One of the figures he centered on was Fred Kaufman, a charismatic, well-traveled bartender from Liverpool, England who worked with German-American bartender Eddie Woelke (known for his take on El Presidente [page 68], among other classics) at the Sevilla- Biltmore Hotel in Havana, Cuba.

Woon denotes that the majority of Kaufman’s creations tended to center around rum and pineapple. The most famous of these was named for the Canadian-American silent screen starlet Mary Pickford, a lead in some of the highest grossing movies of the 1910s, and in the 1920s one of the few women who directed and produced her own movies.

While Pickford did make movies in Cuba in the mid-1910s, Woon’s account that Pickford vacationed there in the 1920s—beguiling the likes of Kaufman while flanked by friend Charlie Chaplin and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, who would have been among scores of Prohibition-era, cocktail-seeking jet-setters— was debunked in the 2010s. According to film- maker and Pickford-ologist Cari Beauchamp, Pickford was too vain about the effect of the island’s high humidity levels on her famous curls to choose it as a vacation destination.

The Mary Pickford endures as one of the most popular classic Cuban cocktails of all time, found on menus around the world. While Kaufman’s original is simply rum, pineapple juice, and grenadine, the modern variation adds some maraschino liqueur for texture.

2 oz (60 ml) white or gold rum (preferably real Havana Club from Cuba)
1½ oz (45 ml) pineapple juice (fresh, if possible)
5 to 6 dashes maraschino liqueur
½ oz (15 ml) grenadine
Garnish: cocktail cherry, if desired

Shake all ingredients with ice until well- chilled and frothy. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry, if using.

Amanda Schuster is a freelance writer with over 15 years’ industry experience covering wine, spirits, cocktails and occasionally things you eat with those things. She is a freelance writer, beverage consultant, and the author of New York Cocktails and Drink Like a Local New York: A Field Guide to New York’s Best Bars from Cider Mill Press. She also authored Signature Cocktails by Phaidon Press. With advanced training in both wine and spirits, Amanda likes to think of herself as bi-spiritual.