Everything You Need To Know About The Dirty Shirley

If you find yourself craving a cocktail with a nostalgic twist, the Dirty Shirley may be the way to go. It is an alcoholic version of the iconic Shirley Temple mocktail, and a perfect sweet treat during the summertime.

The Shirley Temple is a childhood staple, with its pink color and ultra-sweet flavor. It has been appealing to anyone with a sweet tooth for nearly a century, reports USA Today. Better Homes and Gardens states that the rising popularity of the Dirty Shirley cocktail may be thanks to Millennial and Gen Z drinkers wanting to put a grown-up spin on a childhood classic now that they are adults.

Though the original drink is heavily sweetened, Better Homes and Gardens states that the addition of alcohol in the cocktail may help cut down on the overall sweetness, making it a more enjoyable drink for those who would prefer to cut back on the sugar.

Origins of the Dirty Shirley

The Shirley Temple — named for the child actress of the early 1900s — was created when the star desired an upscale nonalcoholic drink on par with cocktails that the adults around her were drinking on her birthday party that took place in 1932, reports Make Me a Cocktail. She was presented with a mix of ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a cherry. Though she reportedly did not enjoy it much and later filed lawsuits against a company wanting to bottle it using her name, the moniker stuck and so did the iconic drink (via TIME).

Though the origins of the Dirty Shirley are a bit unclear, reports InsideHook, it is undoubtedly linked to the mocktail. The publication states that Chasen's, formerly of West Hollywood, laid claim to the original mocktail, though Shirley Temple herself cited it as the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood. As the drink grew in popularity, bartenders experimented by adding an alcoholic twist for the adult crowd, but it has not been definitively pinpointed as to which specific bar invented the actual Dirty Shirley.

How to make a Dirty Shirley

A traditional Shirley Temple is typically made using lemon-lime soda, lime juice, and grenadine to give it that iconic red color (via Delish). Some recipes swap the lemon-lime soda for ginger ale, while others even include orange juice, reports Savor the Flavour. To finish it off, maraschino cherries are used as a garnish and for some added sweetness.

A Dirty Shirley is the alcoholic version of this, adding into the recipe vodka (via New York Times Cooking). Mix the vodka with a splash of grenadine over ice, and then mix it all in with the soda. Of course, you should still top it with that iconic maraschino cherry, which pairs well with liquor. To add an extra dimension of flavor, try adding a splash of a different fruit juice for a fresh burst.

Any way you choose to customize it, the Dirty Shirley is a throwback to a childhood classic.