The Dirty Shirley drink is a grown-up version of the kiddie cocktail! Spiked with vodka, it features the classic bright pink grenadine.

Dirty Shirley Drink

Love a Shirley Temple but want something a little more…adult? There’s a grown up version for that: the Dirty Shirley drink! Spike this classic kiddie cocktail with vodka, and you’ve got a boozy version of everyone’s favorite mocktail. To be sure, it’s still got all the elements of childhood fun: electric pink grenadine and bubbly ginger ale. It’s the ideal drink for a kid at heart!

What’s in a Dirty Shirley drink?

The Dirty Shirley is a vodka-spiked Shirley Temple, the famous non-alcoholic drink made with grenadine and ginger ale. The drink was invented in the 1930’s and then named after the famous actress, who herself famously called the kiddie cocktail “too sweet.” The original drink used ginger ale or ginger beer, but over time it’s become customarily made with lemon lime soda (read Sprite).

How to make a Dirty Shirley drink? Add vodka to the classic, as well as a squeeze of lime to balance the flavors. Here’s what you’ll need for a Dirty Shirley:

  • Vodka
  • Grenadine
  • Lime juice
  • Ginger beer or ginger ale
Dirty Shirley Drink

How sweet is this drink?

Just like the classic Shirley Temple, the Dirty Shirley is a sweet drink. In fact, we prefer a bit more balanced drink with tart flavors in the mix. Something like a Vodka Gimlet, Vodka Mojito or Vodka Sour are more up our alley. But if you love sweet, you’ll enjoy this drink: especially if you’re a fan of grenadine!

Use purchased or homemade grenadine

What makes a Dirty Shirley drink? The grenadine! Grenadine syrup is a pomegranate-flavored bar syrup that’s used in many popular cocktails and mocktails. You can find it purchased, but often it has artificial colors or flavors. So, you can also make it homemade! Here’s what to know about purchasing grenadine:

  • Try homemade grenadine. The best Grenadine Syrup made at home uses pomegranate seeds to make juice, then boil it down into a syrup. You can get a decent color out of this, but it won’t be as bright as the artificial colors.
  • Opt for a purchased all natural grenadine if you like. But keep in mind, the color will not be as bright. Most all natural grenadine is more of a muddy dark red color.
  • What other drinks use grenadine? Try the Tequila Sunrise, Vodka Sunrise, Clover Club, Malibu Sunset, or more Grenadine Cocktails.
Dirty Shirley drink

More highball drinks like the Dirty Shirley

The Dirty Shirley is a highball cocktail: a drink that has a larger percentage of non-alcoholic mixer to liquor! There are lots of famous highballs: here are a few related drinks you might want to try:

When to serve a Dirty Shirley drink

The Dirty Shirley drink is great for serving alongside Shirley Temple mocktails for kids! (Just don’t mix them up.) It’s a bubbly and sweet cocktail, perfect for sipping as a:

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Dirty Shirley Drink

Dirty Shirley Drink

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Dirty Shirley drink is a grown-up version of the kiddie cocktail! Spiked with vodka, it features the classic bright pink grenadine.


  • 2 ounces* vodka
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce grenadine (purchased or homemade)
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 4 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Ice (try clear ice!)
  • For the garnish: cocktail cherry


  1. In a highball glass, stir together the vodka, grenadine, and lime juice.
  2. Add the ice and fill the glass with the ginger ale. Top with cherry.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Dirty Shirley drink

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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