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Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Everyone knows about the delicious, non-alcoholic drink, the Shirley Temple. But what about its more mature cousin, the Dirty Shirley cocktail? 

Actually, it’s pretty popular, too, and for good reason! Basically, the Dirty Shirley is simply a Shirley Temple with some vodka mixed in. 

Boozy and refreshing dirty shirley cocktail
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It captures the original drink’s sweet taste and lovely pink hue. It’s just a bit boozier for those over 21 looking for an extra kick. 

If you grew up loving Shirley Temples, it’s time to give the Dirty Shirley cocktail a try. (If you’re of age, of course!) 

Dirty Shirley Cocktail 

People have all kinds of names for the Dirty Shirley cocktail. Some call it the Boozy Shirley Temple, the Shirley for Adults, and the Over-21 Temple. 

Whatever you call it, there’s no denying the drink’s charm. It has loads of sweet, fruity flavor and looks adorable. Thanks to the 2 ounces of vodka, it also packs a punch.

It’s a great way to relive your childhood as an adult. And if you never had a Shirley Temple as a kid, that’s okay! There’s never a wrong time to introduce yourself to the Shirley, dirty or otherwise. 

As long as you enjoy lemon-lime soda and maraschino cherries, it’s sure to be a hit.

Ingredient Notes 

As mentioned, the Dirty Shirley is simply a Shirley Temple with vodka. With that in mind, here’s what you need: 

  • Ice – You won’t need a cocktail shaker for the Dirty Shirley, just a tall glass full of ice. If you want to make the drink super cute, use shaped ice cubes. These silicone duck and penguin ice trays should do the trick. 
  • Vodka – Most recipes call for plain vodka, but you can mix it up with flavored vodka if you prefer. Either way, select a high-quality brand like Skyy or Svedka. 
  • Grenadine – Grenadine is responsible for the Dirty Shirley’s signature color. It also has a slightly tangy, somewhat fruity taste. 
  • Lemon-lime soda – I like Sprite, but 7-UP, Sierra Mist, or another lemon-lime soda would also suffice. Ginger ale is a good alternative if you don’t have lemon-lime soda. 
  • Maraschino cherry & a lime wedge – These are the traditional garnishes for the Shirley Temple. And, subsequently, the Dirty Shirley. 
Homemade dirty shirley cocktail in a glass of ice

How to Make a Dirty Shirley Cocktail 

Making a Dirty Shirley couldn’t be easier, as it requires no special equipment. Simply follow these steps: 

  1. Add ice to a tall glass. Pour the vodka and grenadine gently over the ice. 
  2. Top it with lemon-lime soda. Stir it gently to combine.
  3. Garnish it with your desired toppings. Serve and enjoy! 

Recipe Variations 

Want to experiment and put a different spin on the traditional Dirty Shirley? Try some of these variations: 

  • Have fun with vodka flavors. Try a cherry-flavored vodka to amplify the cocktail’s character. Brands like Smirnoff, Three Olives, Svedka, Pinnacle, UV, or Skyy offer cherry variants.
  • Select your spirit. Vodka isn’t your only option for this drink. Experiment with rum, gin, or even tequila! 
  • Give it a citrusy twist. Squeeze in some fresh lime or lemon juice. 
  • Make it extra fruity. Cherries, raspberries, and strawberries could all work nicely. 
  • Treat yourself to a refresher. Muddle in some fresh mint leaves for a fresher taste. You could also add ginger beer or muddle some fresh ginger for a bit of spice. 
  • Cut the calories. Use a diet lemon-lime soda to cut back on sugar and calories. 
  • Need the color but don’t have grenadine? Add cherry juice or maraschino cherry liqueur to the drink instead. It won’t taste the same, but it’ll still be yummy. Raspberry syrup and Torani pomegranate syrup are other excellent options. 
  • Make it boozier. Want even more of a boozy kick? Add 1/2 ounce to an ounce of triple sec
Homemade dirty shirley in a glass with vodka

Can I Make the Dirty Shirley Without Alcohol?

You can absolutely make the Dirty Shirley without alcohol! Simply follow the recipe as directed, but leave out the vodka.

The result is a colorful, tasty Shirley Temple. 

Tips for Making a Big Batch 

Want to make a large batch of Dirty Shirleys for a party?

Multiply the quantity of ingredients you need by X. (X being the number of anticipated cocktails you’ll need.) Then, mix everything in a large bowl and fill several glasses with ice. 

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Here are a few other tips: 

  • Allow for ample chill time. Chill the liquids ahead of time. That will keep them cooler for longer. 
  • Soda ice cubes. Use lemon-lime soda instead of water to make ice to prevent the water from diluting your drinks.
  • Leave the lemon-lime soda to the last minute. Pour it in immediately before serving. Doing so will keep it from going flat. 
  • Get fancy with garnishes. The garnishes aren’t integral to the drink, but they make it nicer. Plus, lots of people enjoy eating the cherries. Make a garnish station so everyone can get what they want for their drinks.

Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Course: CocktailsCuisine: American



The Dirty Shirley is a grown-up version of the Shirley Temple! Spiked with vodka, it’s guaranteed to give you a good buzz.


  • ice

  • 2 ounces vodka

  • 1 ounce grenadine

  • 6-8 ounces lemon-lime soda (like 7UP or Sprite)

  • maraschino cherry, for garnish (optional)

  • lime wedge, for garnish (optional)


  • Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the vodka and grenadine.
  • Top off with lemon-lime soda. Stir to combine.
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry and/or lime wedge, if desired.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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