Dirty Shirley

Have you heard of the Dirty Shirley cocktail yet? It’s the hottest new drink of the summer. 

dirty shirley on a cutting board with text overlay for facebook


Surely (no pun intended) you remember the classic shirley temple. It’s a non-alcoholic drink named after the child star herself, Shirley Temple. It’s a classic mix of grenadine and Sprite. We are taking that classic mocktail up a notch with this Dirty Shirley.

It’s all the rage! A simple cocktail derived from an innocent childhood drink, it’s simple to make, festively bright and can easily be transferred into a mocktail for the kiddos and those not imbibing. Great for a special occasion but also perfect for any normal summer day.

dirty shirley on a cutting board with limes

What is Dirty Shirley? 

A dirty Shirley is a Shirley temple cocktail made with lemon-lime soda (sprite), grenadine syrup, vodka and maraschino cherries, my favorite part of the easy cocktail. 

I’m sure folks have been spiking these favorite drinks for years, but after a few notable outlets like The New York Times, Popsugar, Buzzfeed and People published an article, it’s all anyone can talk about.

I was literally writing this post at the pool and overhead another group ordering it at the tiki bar and a separate group discussing it poolside as this years trendy cocktail. 

three dirty shirley cocktails

Dirty Shirley Ingredients

The list is made up of simple ingredients, but also has a lengthy list of variations to make your own custom dirty Shirley Temple cocktail. 

  • Lemon Lime Soda– the most traditional you can also use any flavor of sparkling water. Cherry will provide a sweeter flavor or you can opt for all lemon or all lime. You could even use ginger ale if you’d like. All the options are equally refreshing. 
  • Grenadine– This tropically hued, magenta syrup is alcohol free and flavored with cherry. In a pinch, just use the juice from the maraschino cherry jar. 
  • Vodka– the most essential ingredient to transform this into a cocktail, flavored vodka is also an option to elevate the citrus or tropical flavors. 
  • Garnishes– As a kid, I ordered extra cherries. Fruit is healthy, right? As an adult I like to thinly slice lemons or limes in addition to cherries. These sleek metal cocktail toothpicks add a flair of sophistication. 
three dirty shirleys on a tray

How to Make a Dirty Shirley Recipe

It’s so simple that we really don’t even need to write out the steps.

  1. Simply grab your favorite highball glass (a skinny tall glass works well too,) and fill it with ice cubes. Next you will pour in a splash of grenadine, add a shot of vodka, then top with lemon lime soda.
  2. Garnish your adult beverage with cherries, lime wedges or your favorite fruit and make cheerful memories while sipping on this shirley temple drink.
collage of dirty shirley process shots


  • Fruit juice– Just a splash of other fruit juice takes the dirty Shirley temple to new levels. Orange juice, lime juice, cranberry juice or pineapple juice are my personal favorites.
  • Garnishes– fresh mint or basil add an herby essence. 
  • Triple Sec– For an added kick and additional fruity flavor, add a splash of triple sec to this Dirty shirley drink recipe.
  • Vodka– Of course you can stick with plain vodka, but the mixture of grenadine and new dark cherry vodka would also be a tantalizing combo. Or perhaps a citrus flavor?
  • Soda- If you’d like to make this less of a sweet drink, you can sub out the lemon lime soda for club soda instead. Any type of soda you use to make this fizzy drink is great.
close up of dirty shirley with three cherries

Making a Big Batch

Making a large batch of any cocktail is a great way to keep things simple for a backyard barbecue or party. Unlike fancy cocktails like espresso martinis, these dirty shirley cocktails can be made in large quantities and served out of a punch bowl.

Because the ingredients are so simple, it’s the perfect drink to make ahead of time. Simply multiply the recipe by the number of guests (allowing enough for each guest to have a few) and add all the ingredients to your serving container.

I would recommend keeping the ice on the side and letting people add their own. This way the drink won’t get watered down. To keep the adult version of this drink from going flat, you might also want to allow each person to add their own sprite as well.

dirty shirley with text overlay for pinterest

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dirty shirley on a cutting board with limes

Dirty Shirley

4.47 from 13 votes
The hottest new drink of summer, this Dirty Shirley cocktail transforms a classic shirley temple into the ultimate refreshing adult drink!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1



  • Pour ingredients over ice.
  • Stir and garnish with fruit.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!



Calories: 267 kcal, Carbohydrates: 43 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 31 mg, Potassium: 11 mg, Sugar: 36 g, Calcium: 6 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 267
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dirty shirley, dirty shirley cocktail
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of dirty shirley for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Aghhhhh! These were SO GOOD! I was looking for a quick and easy cocktail and found this one! All of my girlfriend’s loved it!!

  2. 5 stars
    I love love love a good summer-y cocktail. This is super tasty and colorful and just absolute perfection!