A Dirty Shirley is a throwback to everyone’s favorite childhood mocktail all grown-up. With just 4 simple ingredients, it’s easy to make and delicious.
Like so many of you, I remember going out to dinner with my parents and sister when I was a kid and ordering a Shirley Temple on special occasions.
I can still remember how great it felt when that little glass filled with cherries and a paper umbrella was placed in front of me.
We had quite the collection of paper umbrellas at one point. Fast forward many years later and my 25-year-old daughter has a favorite drink to order on special occasions.
No, it’s not a Shirley Temple (though that was her favorite as a kid) but a Dirty Shirley!
I thought it would be fun to share the simple 4-ingredient cocktail recipe that we make whenever there is a family celebration with my sisters.
It’s a sweet drink and a perfect treat for summertime or any time you want a drink with a bit of nostalgia.
If there is any doubt about the popularity of the Dirty Shirley all you have to do is a quick search on Pinterest to see thousands of recipes for this cherry-flavored cocktail.
In fact, the hashtag #dirtyshirley has 11.6 million views on TikTok as of today!
Before we get to the recipe, here is a bit of history behind the kids’ drink that started it all!
When was the Shirley Temple invented?
It has been reported that the famous child actor asked for a drink that looked like the beverages the adults around her were drinking at her birthday party in 1932.
Per Make me a Cocktail she was given a drink of ginger ale mixed with grenadine, topped with a cherry. It should be noted that she denies any involvement with the drink.
But, the drink stuck and kids have been ordering it for many decades. The popularity of this mocktail inspired bartenders to experiment with an alcoholic version for the adults.
While it is unknown who created the Dirty Shirley, we are sure happy they did!
What Ingredients do I need to make a Dirty Shirley Cocktail?
A traditional Dirty Shirley is made with lemon-lime soda, vodka, and grenadine. However, we also add Peachtree which gives it another level of flavor.
I’ve included a printable recipe card at the end of this post for convenience!
- Lemon-lime soda – you can even use cherry!
- Vodka – flavored or unflavored (I love vanilla)
- Maraschino Cherries
- Sliced Oranges
- Paper Straw or Umbrella
- Mason Jars or a Highball Glass
- Red Sugar (optional for rim)
How to Make a Dirty Shirley
- Fill a mason jar or highball glass with ice.
- Pour in the vodka, grenadine, and peachtree.
- Mix well with a bar spoon.
- Add your favorite lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.
- Garnish with an orange twist and maraschino cherries. Enjoy!
How to Serve a Dirty Shirley
We love this drink served in large mason jars, however, typically a highball glass is used with lots of ice.
The more maraschino cherries the better! We use about 5-6! Try making your own grenadine for an extra bit of flavor.
Here is a super simple recipe:
How to Make Homemade Grenadine
- 2 large pomegranates (or 2 cups of pomegranate juice)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 ounces of pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- Use a citrus press to cut the pomegranates in half. Save time and use pre-made pomegranate juice!
- Pour the juice into a microwave-safe container and microwave at full power for 1 to 2 minutes until warm.
- Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
- Add pomegranate molasses and orange blossom water. Stir to combine.
- Allow to cool, then pour into a sealed bottle.
- Consider adding an ounce of vodka as a preservative.
Tip for Making a Dirty Shirley
What kind of alcohol is in a Dirty Shirley?
While vodka is typically used to make a spiked Shirley Temple, rum can also be used. It’s a very versatile cocktail that can be adjusted for your specific taste.
Can I use flavored vodka in a Dirty Shirley?
Absolutely! We love to use vanilla vodka, whipped cream vodka, or even cherry vodka. Experiment and find your favorite flavor combinations.
Can I make a low-carb Dirty Shirley?
Yes! There are so many low-carb drink variations you can use to make a Dirty Shirley.
Here are a few ideas:
- Use seltzer water in your favorite flavor, or soda water.
- Add sugar-free pomegranate juice
- Use liquid stevia
- Replace maraschino cherries with fresh cherries.
Cheers to adult versions of kid-friendly drinks!
I hope you enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane with me.
I would love to hear about your favorite memory of when you first tried a Shirley Temple. Leave a comment below.
Thanks for visiting Our Crafty Cocktails. Have a great day!
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If you loved this Dirty Shirley Drink, check out some of these other easy cocktail recipes!
- Crown Royal Peach Whiskey Fish Bowl
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- Crown Royal Cranapple Cocktail
- Tequila Rose Strawberry Shooters
- 6 ounces lemon-lime soda - cherry or regular
- 1 ounce of Vodka - flavored or unflavored
- 1 ounce of Peachtree
- 2-3 tsp of Grenadine
- Maraschino Cherries
- Orange Slices
- **Optional - Paper Straw or Umbrella
- Mason Jar or Highball Glass
- **Optional - Red sanding sugar for rim
- If you plan to sugar the rim place your glass in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Wet the rim with water and swirl it in red sugar.
- Place about 6 cherries in your glass then fill 1/2 way with ice.
- Add a 1 oz shot of vodka.
- Add a 1 oz shot of Peachtree.
- Fill with lemon-lime soda.
- Add a couple of orange slices.
- Add two-three teaspoons of grenadine and stir well.
- **Optional - add an orange slice and a pretty straw. Don't forget the umbrella!
You can also use rum if you prefer.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 cocktail
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254calSodium: 20mgmgCarbohydrates: 31ggSugar: 25ggProtein: 1gg
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