A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Origins of ‘I Love Lucy’

Back in 1951, "I Love Lucy" debuted on CBS-TV... barely. Learn the tale and get strong armed into trying a delicious rum cocktail.

By CBS Television-see above re: advertising and publicity agencies and how they were used for publicity material distribution. (eBay itemphoto frontphoto back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The History Lesson

The most popular sitcom ever almost didn’t happen.

It all started in 1948, when the radio series, “My Favorite Husband,” hit the airwaves, starring a redhead as funny as she was pretty.

It was the latest in a string of radio and movie hits for Ball, and for her, it was also a revelation: she realized she was at her best in front of a live audience.

Soon CBS asked Ball if she’d do a version of the show on TV. She said yes, on two conditions: that it be shot before an audience… and that her TV husband be played by her real-life spouse, the Cuban-born movie and music star Desi Arnaz.

CBS wasn’t pleased. A show about an average American housewife married to a foreign guy? Who’d buy that? And as for the live audience sitcoms had only ever used fake laugh tracks. ‘Cause, how could you stuff an audience on a TV soundstage without violating fire codes?

But there was more. Desi and Lucy wanted the show shot with multiple cameras at once, so they wouldn’t have to stop the action to set up each take. Oh, and they were about to have a kid. So they wanted to shoot in their home town: Hollywood. Instead of New York, where most of the TV industry was.

Finally, CBS acquiesced to all demands… as long as Lucy and Desi each took a pay cut of a $1,000 a week. Which they did, in return for owning 80 percent of the rights to the show.
Good move. 11 million households a week tuned in the first season of “I Love Lucy.”

Back when there were just 15 million TVs in all America.

Lucy and Desi became millionaires. And soon, pretty much all sitcoms were filmed on multiple cameras before a live audience.

The Booze

The Cuban Arm


Mixed up by Justin Roberts, bartender manager at La Descarga in Hollywood, the city where Lucille and Desi made their fortunes. It’s called The Cuban Arm because Desi Arnaz had a habit of hooking his arm around people in a playful way and say and say, “Listen, amigo…”


  • 1 ½ ounces Rose-infused Bacardi Silver Rum (Arnaz’s grandfather was an executive at Barcardi)
  • 1 ounce Spiced coconut milk (add a little nutmeg and sugar to taste)
  • 1 ounce Egg white
  • ½ ounce Orange liqueur
  • ½ Fresh lemon juice


For the rum:

Add dried roses to alcohol and let it macerate overnight.

For the cocktail:

In a shaker dry shake (without ice) rose-infused rum, spiced coconut milk, egg white, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. Find out more about dry shaking cocktails here. Justin suggests you won’t get the same level of froth and texture without it. Add ice into the shaker and shake again. Strain the drink into a coupe glass and garnish with a dried rosebud on top.