Shirley Temple – History & Recipe

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Shirley Temple

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American




Total time



Learn how to make a old fashion Shirley Temple


  • 1 oz 30 ml Grenadine

  • 8 oz 240 ml Ginger Ale


  • Technique: Saxe Soda Shake
  • Add syrup to a cocktail shaker.
  • Add one small ice cube to the cocktail shaker and shake until the ice fully melts.
  • Pour the chilled and aerated syrup without a strainer into a collins glass.
  • Slowly pour the ginger ale down into the top of the drink. This will build both body and a foam head.

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The History Of The Shirley Temple Drink.

The Shirley Temple was a very difficult drink to research, and I could not find any mention of it in magazines, books, or even newspapers until 1957. By the 1960s, the drink seems to be firmly named Shirley Temple, and many magazines and books mention it by name. In the October 25, 1957 issue of the Milford Chronicle from Delaware, an article by Elaine Dickerson mentions taking young girls (7 years old or so) to tour an Air Force base and bringing them to the Base’s Officer’s Club to get Shirley Temples. The author explains it is a ginger ale drink with fruit flavor added. Most mentions of the Shirley Temple from the 1960s described it as a drink made of Grenadine and either ginger ale, sprite, or lemonade. A 1961 book called “Where Shall We Take the Kids” says the drink used to be called a Davy Crockett, but I cannot find any other source that calls it this. This book also says the Shirley temple is made with pineapple, cherry, and orange juice.

With all the different recipes and the fact that I could only find the name linked to the drink in the late 1950s, I instead researched these combinations of ingredients. I found the Shirley Temple resembles temperance-era Grenadine Punches from the 1920s. Many of the non-alcoholic Grenadine Punch recipes from that time were mixtures of grenadine and sprite with fruit, grenadine and ginger ale with cherries, or grenadine mixed with pineapple juice, soda, and fruit. This primarily lines up with the various Shirley Temple recipes of the 1960s and a quick google search today shows that everything has stayed the same. Most modern recipes are grenadine and ginger ale, but many use sprite too. I even found a few that add pineapple and other juices. I wasn’t alive during the 1920s to 1960s, nor can I find anything that states the Shirley Temple is a temperance-era grenadine punch, but it seems like it was to me based on the similarity of the recipes. Who knows when or why the drink was named after the famous 1930s child actress? But if made with care, it is a delicious soda and one I loved as a child.

How To Get A Nice Foam On Your Sodas.

While the Shirley Temple is not from the 1800s, it was typical for high-end sodas in the late 1800s to have a nice foam on top. Similar to high-end molecular gastronomy restaurants today, a nice soda fountain would ensure that some drinks had an air or foam on top as you sipped your drink. The foam provides both a creamy texture and olfactory stimulation. These were called foaming agents, and in the 1800s, soap bark or other extracts were added to syrups to provide foam when shaken and mixed with soda water. A popular one today in the United States is propylene glycol, and while it is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) in the US, it is banned for consumption in the EU. Another modern alternative, and the one I use, is adding lecithin to my syrups. Lecithin is flavor neutral, a natural emulsifier that provides a nice foam, and is often taken as a health supplement. It is also the foaming agent many high-end restaurants use to make foams for food. So I’ll add 0.5% of the total syrups weight of lecithin powder to my syrups as a foaming agent. Check out my grenadine recipe for exactly how that is done.

If you want to learn more about this topic and make your drinks better, check out De Forest Saxe’s 1894 book “Saxe’s New Guide Hints to Soda Water Dispensers. Another book I highly recommend reading is Darcy S. O’Neil’s absolutely fascinating book Fix The Pumps, which covers the history and standard practices of early soda fountains.

Recipe Resources

Tools Used:

Download the free Vintage American Cocktail app.

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