Shirley Temple Cocktail Recipe and History

Table of Contents

When you want something sweet and bubbly mixed with a bit of childhood nostalgia, reach for that classic mocktail, the Shirley Temple.

shirley temple cocktail

The Shirley Temple Recipe

This pink drink has been happily guzzled by kids and teetotalers since it was named after the curly-haired, pint-sized starlet in the 1930s. It’s simple, festive, and just might bring you back to a time when it only took a cherry to make all right with the world.

  • Prep Time 1 Minutes
  • Cook Time 1 Minutes
  • Total Time 2 Minutes
  • Serves 1 People
  • Calories 139 kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz ginger ale
  • 1 oz grenadine
  • 2 Maraschino cherries

Instructions

  1. Fill a collins or pint glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add 8 oz of ginger ale.
  3. Add 1 oz grenadine.
  4. Stir gently with a bar spoon and garnish with Maraschino cherries.

Notes

Grenadine is sweetened pomegranate syrup. Skip the “big name” versions that are made from high fructose corn syrup and food coloring. The real thing has a lovely, rich flavor that the fake stuff can’t match. Try Liber & Co’s Real Grenadine, or make your own.

How to Make Homemade Grenadine

Combine 2 cups pomegranate juice and 2 cups granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.

Strain Pairings

For the ultimate cocktail experience, we recommend pairing the Shirley Temple cocktail with the following strains:

Shirley Temple Cocktail Modifications

With a drink this simple, it’s easy to make tweaks and modifications to make it your own. The traditional Shirley is made with ginger ale, but some prefer to use lemon-lime soda or lemonade. Use ginger beer for a bit of a grown-up bite. And if you find it too sweet, cut the grenadine syrup down by half and add a splash of fresh lime juice for tartness.

You can also sub out the ginger ale for cola to make a Roy Rogers, named for another star of the 1930s and ’40s.

To make this kid-friendly drink adults-only, add 1.5 ounces of vodka to turn it into a Dirty Shirley.

History of the Shirley Temple

How many people get a drink named after them at the age of 10? For Shirley Temple, it was just another event in an altogether extraordinary life.

She made her first film appearances at the age of three in a series of shorts called Baby Burlesks. In these 10-minute films, children recreated comedic versions of recent films or real-world events. Soon, Shirley was signed to a contract with the Fox Film Corporation, starring in films like Curly Top, The Little Colonel, and Bright Eyes.

By the age of six, she had become a bonafide superstar. During the Great Depression (1929-1939), President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself said, “During this Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.” He was talking, of course, about Shirley.

So how did this talented tot become the namesake for this mocktail? There are a few different stories. Several restaurants claim they invented the drink for her, including Chasen’s in West Hollywood and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. Temple herself claimed it was made for her at the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood. Regardless of the place, the story generally goes that at about ten years old, the little actress was hankering for a more grown-up drink, and someone whipped her up a kid-appropriate drink of ginger ale and grenadine with a cherry on top.

What did Shirley herself think of her eponymous bev? She wasn’t a fan. She called it a “saccharine sweet, icky drink.”

When two soft drink companies tried to create a bottled version of the Shirley Temple in the 1980s, she took them to court to prevent them from using her name. She was successful in her lawsuits. Unfortunately, now that she’s passed away, some companies have indeed started selling premade Shirley Temples.

Even though Shirley herself may not have liked it when she got older, there’s certainly some nostalgia floating around its sweetness and pink hue. If you were a Shirley Temple-loving kid, make one for yourself to take a trip down memory lane. Just go ahead and add that splash of vodka.

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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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