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A Dirty Shirley cocktail recipe — if you just have to try one

(Jennifer Heffner for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Dirty Shirley Cocktail
Total time:5 mins
Total time:5 mins
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The Dirty Shirley is an alcoholic version of the Shirley Temple, itself a kid’s version of an adult cocktail. Named for the ringleted child star of the 1930s (who disavowed the drink and even sued to prevent companies from releasing commercial versions using her name), the rosy, neon cherry-enhanced drink has had alcoholic variations floating around for years.

Especially when made with commercial grenadine and lemon-lime soda, it is aggressively sweet. Those who prefer their drinks less so should steer clear — or try a bitter lemon soda, a good craft grenadine (look for brands that include an acidic component in their ingredient list. They may not be as scarlet!). Or try a more restrained variation, such as this Don’t Call Me Shirley Cocktail.

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  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce grenadine, to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces lemon-lime soda, ginger ale or a mix of the two
  • Maraschino cherries, for serving

Step 1

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the vodka and grenadine, then top with soda and/or ginger ale to fill. Stir gently to combine, then garnish with the cherries and serve.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (using 1/2 ounce grenadine and 6 ounces soda)

Calories: 240; Total Fat: 0 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 21 mg; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugar: 23 g; Protein: 0 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Traditional recipe adapted by Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

Tested by M. Carrie Allan; email questions to

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