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Dirty Shirley Cocktail

A Dirty Shirley Cocktail is a spin on the classic Shirley Temple. This grown-up version of this childhood drink is made with grenadine, lemon-lime soda, and vodka!

Dirty Shirley Cocktail

What is a Dirty Shirley?

A Shirley Temple reminds us of our childhood and this drink represents our adulthood. A Dirty Shirley drink flips the script by creating a cocktail from a mocktail.

The original Shirley Temple, named for the 1930s-era child movie star, is made with grenadine syrup, lemon-lime soda and classically garnished with a fluorescent maraschino cherry. To turn a Shirley Temple dirty, you simply spike it with vodka or another type of alcohol. It’s the alcoholic version of everyone’s favorite childhood mocktail!

Bartenders may not know how to make one but you can still ask for it by its ingredients or just make it at home with this simple recipe!

Dirty Shirley Ingredients

This Dirty Shirley Recipe requires just a few simple ingredients.

  • Vodka: Use your favorite plain vodka. No need to reach for the top shelf but use good vodka.
  • Grenadine: Many people think grenadine is cherry-flavored but it’s actually made with pomegranate juice, granulated sugar, and lemon juice.
  • Lemon-Lime Soda: Any lemon-lime soda will work such as Sprite, 7UP, Sierra Mist or a craft soda. Ginger ale can also be substituted.
  • Garnish: A garnish adds that extra bit of flair to this cocktail. Add two maraschino cherries for a little extra flavor and decoration. A lime wedge or wheel will pair nicely as well. Optionally, coat rim of glass with sugar or even colored sugar.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)

How to Make a Dirty Shirley

  1. Add the vodka and grenadine into a tall glass filled with ice.
  2. Top with the lemon-lime soda, stir briefly to combine.
  3. Garnish with two maraschino cherries.

Dirty Shirley Substitutions & Variations

  • Diet Dirty Shirley: Make it a Skinny Dirty Shirley with a diet lemon-lime soda.
  • Not So Sweet Dirty Shirley: For a less sweet cocktail, substitute lemon-lime soda for soda water, lemon-lime soda water, or club soda. Go half and half or sub all the way.
  • Sweeter Dirty Shirley: For a slightly sweeter cocktail, add a dash and up to a 1/2 ounce of maraschino cherry juice.
  • Shirley Temple Mimosa: Swap half of the lemon-lime soda for champagne, sparkling wine or a Rosé.
  • Flavored Vodka Dirty Shirley: Substitute plain vodka with vanilla or cherry flavored vodka.
  • Gin Dirty Shirley: You can substitute the vodka for gin and also go half and half with tonic water and lemon-lime juice.
  • Tequila Dirty Shirley: Use Blanco tequila instead of vodka.
  • Rum Dirty Shirley: This variation adds white or light rum instead of vodka.
  • Shirley Temple Black: This version is a play on her married name and uses dark rum.
  • Dirty Shirley Punch: Increase the serving in equal proportion and serve this drink in a punch bowl.

Dirty Shirley Tips

  • Use a chilled glass: Place the glasses in the freezer 30 minutes before serving.
  • Refrigerate the ingredients: Guarantee a nice and cold drink with chilled ingredients.
  • Adjust the grenadine: To adjust the fruitiness and sweetness of this drink increase or decrease the amount of grenadine to this recipe.
  • Add lime juice: For an extra citrusy flavor add fresh squeezed lime, or even lemon juice, to this cocktail.
  • Serve immediately: As with any carbonated cocktail this drink is best served immediately before the bubbly goes flat.
  • Perfect for Summer or Winter: This drink originally started as a light and refreshing summer drink but the festive red colors and seasonal winter pomegranate make this a perfect holiday cocktail.

Best Glassware for a Dirty Shirley

Dirty Shirley’s are best served in a tall glass such as a Highball (recommended), Collins, or Mojito Glass. The long, cylindrical shape of a tall glass helps maintain the fizz. An Old Fashion or Margarita glass will also work in a pinch.

How to Make Grenadine Syrup

If you don’t have grenadine syrup on hand you can make your own with pomegranate juice, granulated sugar, and lemon juice.

Grenadine Ingredients

  • 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice, about 2 fresh squeezed pomegranates or use a store bought pomegranate juice such as POM
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed

Homemade Grenadine Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat add the pomegranate juice and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. 
  2. Cool and stir in the lemon juice and refrigerate until cool. Grenadine will last up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

Grenadine Substitutes

Homemade grenadine syrup is the best substitute but these substitutes will get you by as well:

  • Pomegranate juice (1 part) and simple syrup (2 parts)
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Cranberry juice cocktail
  • Strawberry syrup
  • Strawberry daiquiri syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Cocktail cherry juice
  • Maraschino juice
  • Crème de cassis (alcoholic liqueur)
  • Torani pomegranate syrup
Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Everyone's favorite mocktail has been modified for adults and is made with grenadine, lemon-lime soda, vodka and garnished with a maraschino cherry or two.


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce grenadine
  • 6 ounces lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 2 Maraschino cherries, garnish


    1. Add the vodka and grenadine into a tall glass filled with ice.
    2. Top with lemon-lime soda, stir briefly to combine.
    3. Garnish with two maraschino cherries.


1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 281Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 27mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 0gSugar: 32gProtein: 0g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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Monique McArthur
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