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Everyone Seems To Be Drinking “Dirty Shirleys” All Of A Sudden — And After Trying It, I Can Absolutely See Why

Honestly, the drink really surprised me...and it came with a cherry on top!

It seems like everyone is talking about the Dirty Shirley cocktail — from the New York Times boldly asking if it’s the drink of the summer to more than 8 million people watching #dirtyshirley videos on TikTok. So, of course, I had to try it.

The nostalgia and suburban charm of an adult, vodka-infused Shirley Temple is why the Dirty Shirley is having a moment, according to the New York Times.

One Dirty Shirley demo on TikTok has 6.4 million views. In other videos, the drink has been memed, mocked, riffed on and, in one case, dubbed “the new espresso martini,” which was the summer drink of 2021. https://t.co/0Pa9uzcDES

Twitter: @nytimes / Lanna Apisukh/The New York Times/Redux

New Yorkers are in a chokehold over this drink. People are ordering it in all kinds of places, from Bushwick dive bars to the Olive Garden in Times Square (exactly the kind of patrons I'd expect to order it).

It's a very simple, easy drink to make. All you need is ice, vodka, grenadine, Sprite (or any lemon-lime soda), and a maraschino cherry on top — the best part!

The writer pictured with the ingredients, with prices listed for each item; all are cheap

First, you start with an empty glass. A tall glass is best.

author with a tall empty glass

Next, fill it to the top with ice. Cubed ice is preferred, but crushed ice works fine too.

author with a glass filled with ice

Fill it with 2 ounces of vodka, whatever kind you've got. I just threw in a full shot glass. You can sub with tonic water if you don't drink.

author pouring vodka into a shot glass

As you can see, a shot glass amount was plenty enough.

The writer holding a glass with ice and vodka, and the vodka fills about half the glass

Then, you'll add 1 ounce of grenadine. I added in just over half of a shot glass. This stuff is sweet!

author adding a shot of grenadine to the drink

Now, you should have a drink with a beautiful red color.

The liquid takes up about the same amount of the glass, but now the bottom half of it has turned red

Next, add Sprite. You can add 8 ounces if you want to measure it out, but I just filled mine to the top.

author with a drink and a sprite can

Adding the Sprite gives it a nice touch.

The drink now takes up the whole glass and has turned mostly red from top to bottom

And finally, my favorite part: drop in a single, ready-to-mingle maraschino cherry.

author dropping in a maraschino cherry to the drink

And voila! You're done! That's the whole recipe. It was such an easy and fun drink to make. Plus, if you already have vodka, the other ingredients don't cost a lot at all.

the dirty shirley drink

So it's fun to make...but how does it taste?

author sitting back with the drink

The subtle carbonated citrus from the lemon-lime soda and the sweet, tart, and fruity taste of the red grenadine syrup arrived at the same time on my tongue. My eyes lit up. I instantly reached my verdict: The Dirty Shirley is delightful and dangerous. It's sweet, but not overpowering — I couldn't even detect the vodka! These are the kinds of cocktails that will leave you with a headache the morning after. But in the moment, it tasted refreshing, fun, and sweet. Y'all...I found my summer cocktail.

The author sipping the drink, then smiling afterward

I've been told my opinions are like tequila and are better taken with several grains of salt, SO I made the drink for 10 of my coworkers. I asked each of them, "Do you agree this is the drink of the summer?" Pink meant yes, yellow meant no.

Colored Post-It notes with feedback; five notes are pink for yes, five yellow for no

There was an even split. Half were singing the Dirty Shirley's praises. The other half? Done with her. Was it generational? All the folks who voted against the drink were at least 30 years old...but of the five people who agreed the Dirty Shirley is the drink of the summer, two were Gen Z and three were millennials. So, this drink isn't just for younger folks — it's for folks who know how to have fun, wherever they may be.

author sitting back with the drink and a text conversation on his phone

Since I'm the author, I'm going to lean on the scale. Y'all, whether you like it or not, the Dirty Shirley is arguably the drink of summer, or at least a drink of summer. She's fun, affordable, quick, unpretentious, and a gorgeous shade of red. You even get a cherry! Stop hating and start sipping.

author with the pros and cons of the drink

And if you're looking to remix the drink a bit, try it out with vanilla-infused vodka if you like ice cream floats! Or if you're sweet-conscious, use less grenadine, only a splash of Sprite, and top it off with soda water.

dirty shirley with substituon suggestions

Here's the recipe to make a Dirty Shirley again!

A Dirty Shirley next to a print-out of the recipe, which has details shared earlier in this post

Try out the Dirty Shirley for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments. Also, shoutout any other cocktails you want me to "investigate." Cheers, y'all!