The sight of a bright pink glass studded with fizzy bubbles and plump, maraschino cherries sliding across the bar towards me always made me feel like “one of the adults” no matter how childlike and fluorescent my glass was. With short, little legs swinging, I would belly up to the bar and confidently order my Shirley Temple the way other gents ordered their scotch. The number of maraschino cherries was absolutely proportionate to the size of the smile I flashed to the bartender too. One cherry and I felt like I’d been stiffed. Your first Shirley Temple was almost a right of passage in childhood.
According to Shirley herself, she had nothing to do with the mocktail whose origins are somewhat disputed. Several Hollywood restaurants claim to have created the drink in the 1930s. Regardless of where it started, most variations of the beverage include either ginger ale or lemon-lime soda (sometimes both), with a splash of grenadine syrup and maraschino cherries.
Growing up, our overnight sitter was a wonderful woman named Jackie. She was retired and her kids were grown and gone but she was like Mary Poppins to my sister and I. When Jackie came to stay with us, we never watched the traditional “kid” movies. I came to love every Shirley Temple and Rogers & Hammerstein VHS tape that came out of her floral overnight bag. Watching Shirley’s bouncy curls and big smile made her one of my favorite actresses and her presence will definitely missed.
To celebrate her life and career, here’s my take on a grown-up version of my favorite libation as a child.
Here’s to you, Shirley. Cheers!