Dirty Shirley cocktail: What’s in this grown-up version of a nonalcoholic favorite

A Dirty Shirley cocktail is shown with a bowl of cherries.

I had my first Shirley Temple just after my first confession. Having just unloaded my sins on the parish priest as an 8-year-old, my parents decided it was time to get right back to sinning and hit the bar.

I remember the magical pink bubbles in a tall glass and the delightful cherry speared with a plastic sword. I was an anxious child, and worried the bartender might have accidentally added alcohol to this obscure drink, but once I took that first, sweet, nonalcoholic sip, I knew I’d found my cocktail.

Now here we are, (many) years later, I hardly ever drink cocktails, and The New York Times has dubbed an adults-only version of the Shirley Temple “the drink of the summer.” Meet the Dirty Shirley.


Isn’t she gorgeous?

It’s hard to believe that this wasn’t a “thing” until now, but a Dirty Shirley is just a classic Shirley Temple with vodka added. That’s it.

Now, it’s a pretty significant amount of vodka — more than a shot’s worth — and it matters how you construct the drink. But that’s the deal, and it sounds totally delicious to me.

What’s In A Dirty Shirley

First, choose a good glass. The New York Times calls for a highball glass, but you just want something roomy enough for the nonalcoholic mixers to get acquainted with the booze.

Fill the glass with ice, then add vodka and grenadine syrup. Here comes the sparkly part: Pour your mixer — 7Up or Sprite are the classics — into the glass and watch the cocktail fizz into life.

Pop a maraschino cherry on top and get ready for fun.


Now, this drink is sweet. Like really sweet. Some folks prefer to use ginger ale instead of a lemon-lime soda to add a little bite. Others use a lemon-lime-flavored seltzer to cut down on the sweetness, or just a squeeze of lime. Give it a whirl as written, then adjust to your palate’s content.

Here’s the simple recipe for the Dirty Shirley from The Times. Happy summer sipping!

[h/t: Real Simple]


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About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kathleen's work.

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