Toasting Shirley Temple: The Disputed History of the Moppet-Monikered Mocktail

Celebrity News Feb. 12, 2014 AT 3:40PM
Shirley Temple As we mourn Shirley Temple's death, take a look at the history of the drink named after her Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Movies are just part of the legacy that Shirley Temple Black has left behind.

Eight decades after the little girl with the curls first charmed audiences, kids  — and adults, too — are still asking for the Shirley Temple nonalcoholic cocktail. Although recipes vary, the main components of the drink are ginger ale, grenadine, and — the best part — a maraschino cherry. Not your typical kiddie fare.

[Related: Shirley Temple's 15 Most Memorable Roles]

While everyone can agree on the basic ingredients, the history of the mocktail is a matter of dispute.

Hollywood legend has it that the concoction came about when the pint-sized star was dining with her parents and wanted a beverage of her own. Two Hollywood restaurants popular with the movie-star crowd in the '30s, Chasen's and the Brown Derby, have taken credit for creating the drink. Both have long since closed their doors. There's also a hotel in Hawaii where Temple's family vacationed that has also staked a claimed to first mixing the mocktail. Unfortunately, there are few alive who can say with certainty where the Shirley Temple drink was born.

Donelle Dadigan, president and founder of The Hollywood Museum, says that either of the Tinseltown eateries make perfect sense. "Both were in the Beverly Hills area and they were very much frequented by the studio heads and the stars of the era, and between '35 and '38 [when she was 10], Shirley was the No. 1 box-office draw," she tells Yahoo. "I'm sure they all wanted to claim the drink."

[Related: Former Child Star Shirley Temple Dies at 85]

Wherever it started, the Shirley Temple was eventually served in restaurants across the country. Even today, Hollywood Boulevard's Musso & Frank Grill, which bills itself as the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, serves it up almost daily. Gary Lukey, the assistant general manager and wine director there, prefers to use 7 Up in his recipe.

"It's a classic cocktail, especially when people go out," he notes. "They don't make it for themselves at home, because most people don't have grenadine at home. It's something different than just a regular soda and they get a cherry in it."

When Temple became an adult, she added another ingredient to give the beverage even more zing.

As Dadigan explains, "The ginger ale became ginger beer and a little bit of dark rum was added to it."

At least we know exactly how the Dirty Shirley cocktail was born.

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