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What Is a Dirty Shirley Made of?

This year, the popularity of the Shirley Temple drink continues to soar, especially as temperatures rise in the summer. This drink can be traced more than ninety years ago, when the celebrities around Shirley Temple, a famous child star, invented something she could drink at star-studded parties. What is in a Shirley Temple drink? It’s quite simple—grenadine, ginger ale, and maraschino cherries. A Dirty Shirley is simply a Shirley Temple with alcohol.

It’s not uncommon to find variations of the Shirley Temple—people often change the alcohol and the type of soda or replace the grenadine with fruit juice. 

Toning Down the Sweetness

Many people, especially those who are on a low-sugar diet, opt for diet soda or sugar-free on-the-go syrup in their Dirty Shirleys; another option is using Mexican Sprite, which is made from real sugarcane. Remember that the alcohol will affect the sweetness of your drink, too, especially if the vodka is flavored. Dark cherry-infused vodka, for example, results in a palatable cocktail.

Making a Dirty Shirley at Home

There are many variations of the Dirty Shirley and there’s no rule that you can’t invent your own. However, the trick is tasting as you go to ensure you have flavor combinations that work.

You can add your favorite juice or herbs or something totally new, like ginger. Some mixologists believe that homemade grenadine is best, and it’s surprisingly easy to experiment with alcohol infusions—simply add crushed cherries to your vodka and let it sit for a few hours. Making an ingredient from scratch will give your drinks a taste all their own.

How to Serve

A dirty Shirley is best served chilled in a Collins glass, so store your glasses in the freezer, use a lot of ice cubes, and keep any leftovers in the fridge. Don't forget to stir the ingredients gently to ensure they come together perfectly, and consider adding a lot of cherries for garnish–especially if you're the type who likes to embrace your inner child.


This classic mocktail can be expanded on and changed endlessly. What you can do with it is limited only by your imagination–if you’re ready to opt for a sugar-free cherry syrup for your next Dirty Shirley variation, Skinny Mixes has got you covered!