The Shirley Temple drink is a super simple family friendly combination. It has bubbles, a little sweetness and tartness and is a wonderful bright color - perfect to please kids and adults alike!
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I'm sure many parents have been there: the kids feel left out when you order a fancy cocktail. A glass of juice doesn't quite cut it next to a layered and decorated tiki drink, for example. Or maybe you are an adult who has isn't drinking, for whatever reason. Enter the mocktail.
Mocktails like this and similar ones the Arnold Palmer and Roy Rodgers were created to fill that gap. They give the kids something that little bit different and in the case of this one, at least, special-looking. They all share other properties too: they are easy to make and only need staple bar ingredients.
Why is this called a Shirley Temple?
Despite being a relatively modern drink, the origins are still a little debated. One story goes that this was created in the 1930s for then child actress Shirley Temple at Chasen's, a Beverly Hills restaurant. However Shirley herself claimed in an NPR interview in the 1980s that it was created instead at Brown Derby restaurant and that she had nothing to do with it.
In fact, she said she didn't like it and found it too sweet.
The extent to which she didn't want to be associated with the drink goes further when a company tried to sell a bottled version. She managed to successfully block them using her name and instead it was sold as a Shirley T.
Ingredients and variations
Traditionally, this is made with ginger ale and grenadine, plus sometimes a squeeze of lime. The traditional garnish is a maraschino cherry. More modern variations often use lemon lime sodas like Sprite or 7Up instead, or a mixture of this and ginger ale.
If you want to play around with the drink, one option is to layer it up. First, pour the grenadine over the ice but don't mix after adding the ginger ale. You'll see it will naturally layer pink at the bottom and lighter on top. For a third layer, add some orange juice at the end. This will give a bit of a sunrise effect (just without the tequila!)
Though speaking of tequila, you can get an alcoholic version of this as well. The "dirty Shirley" adds a shot of vodka in the mix. Some change it up with some rum, though I am sure you could use a few other spirits in there, too.
Perfecting the original
For me, using Sprite or 7Up is way too sweet. I much prefer the original since while ginger ale has some sweetness, you have that mild ginger flavor to balance it out. Especially made with homemade grenadine and a good squeeze of lime, it's really not that sweet. I'd like to think that maybe Shirley would be persuaded to like it if made this way, but who knows.
I couldn't find maraschino cherries anywhere, but I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan anyway. So I've gone with real cherries which to me are just as pretty and taste better. True, they may not sit as easily on top but it's a small price to pay!
This Shirley Temple drink is so easy to make and wonderfully refreshing. It's bright in color and lightly flavored. Perfect to please kids and adults alike, especially on a warm day.
Try these other refreshing drinks, perfect for all:
- Mint lemonade, limonana
- Cantaloupe agua fresca
- Blueberry lemonade (also a lovely color!)
- Agua de jamaica, hibiscus tea (similarly a nice pink)
- Plus get more drinks recipes in the archives.
Shirley Temple drink
- 1 oz grenadine 30ml, recommend homemade (see below)
- ½ oz fresh lime juice 15ml
- 7 oz ginger ale 200ml
- Fill a highball or other tall glass with ice. Pour over half of the grenadine (or all, if you want to give it a layered look). Add the lime juice.
- Top up the glass with ginger ale, around 7oz/200ml and serve, traditionally garnished with a maraschino cherry (though here I used a fresh cherry).
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