The Shirley Temple is probably the most famous mocktail ever. This classic mix of ginger ale and grenadine with a squeeze of lemon or lime topped with maraschino cherries is believed to be the world’s first mocktail. And it’s still alive and well today.
The drink is named for Shirley Temple, the child actress, singer and dancer who starred in many movies and television shows during the 1930s and ’40s and later become a U.S. diplomat and ambassador. It’s possible the drink debuted at the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles—a claim made by Ms. Temple herself—although other establishments also lay claim to its provenance.
Often viewed as a child’s drink, the Shirley Temple is a popular choice for anyone seeking a tasty nonalcoholic beverage. That’s why the Shirley Temple is a fixture at bars, whether it’s on the official mocktail menu or simply made à la minute for a guest. Of course, like all drinks, the quality can vary. Make your Shirley Temple with cheap bottled grenadine, sweet-and-sour and neon-red maraschino cherries, and you’re bound to create a sickly sweet concoction that belongs squarely on the kid’s menu. But use homemade grenadine (an easy mixture of pomegranate juice and water), fresh citrus, and garnish it with high-quality cherries, and you’ll have a well-made example fit for discerning drinkers.
Over the years, bartenders have found ways to tweak the Shirley Temple recipe. Some replace the ginger ale with ginger syrup and club soda, while others skip the ginger entirely and opt for lemon-lime soda or lemonade. You can also make this mocktail a cocktail, often dubbed the Dirty Shirley, by dosing it with vodka or another spirit of your choice.
Regardless of which route you choose to go, the drink has staying power. It’s the familiarity and ease of order that are the keys to the Shirley Temple’s longevity. Ms. Temple herself, however, was not a fan of the drink, finding it too sweet. But perhaps even she would have enjoyed the popular elixir if she’d tried this recipe, which features DIY grenadine, fresh lime juice and good cherries.