Grenadine, ginger ale or Sprite, and a maraschino cherry. Who would think such a seemingly simplistic combination would have achieved the fame it did? Ask any kid, from today or yesterday, and you will get your answer. For generations, the Shirley Temple, served in a tall, ice-filled glass and topped with that ersatz, Day-Glo red cherry has been a rite of passage. It's the drink that makes every kid feel grown-up, as she sips her own "cocktail." Sadly, the drink's namesake, Shirley Temple Black, died last night at the age of 85.
Shirley Temple herself led a remarkable life - she was the biggest star in America from 1935 to 1938 and a diplomat in later life - but it's the drink named for her that embodies her sweetness and, well, effervescence. While its provenance can't be verified - both Chasen's in Beverly Hills and the Brown Derby, cited by Temple herself, lay claim to its creation - the drink's popularity can. Who can't recall their first Shirley Temple?
The original recipe most likely used the bright red Rose's grenadine, which still gives most versions its trademark cherry-red color, as well as a lemon-lime mixture with club soda to achieve the fizzy consistency. As for those unmistakable cherries, the ones that kids still demand by the handful? Imitation maraschino cherries grew out of Prohibition and the years prior to it when alcohol in any form was frowned upon. Since real maraschinos are steeped in marasche liqueur, it was bye-bye maraschinos and hello imitation, whose true color was stripped out and replaced by red dye. Come on, you didn't think that color existed in nature, did you?
So much as we are proponents of all things properly made when it comes to cocktails, we think that it's OK to bend the rules here. A Shirley Temple without that vibrant red orb on top just wouldn't be the same. So, just for today, nix your usual booze, pop into your local (or make your own), and ask for a Shirley Temple. Hold fast and demand Rose's grenadine and an imitation cherry (although you might not find those ingredients in a classic cocktail bar, and thank goodness for that). One sip should bring back childhood memories that make you smile much as Temple did whenever she graced the silver screen. And, if you're too young to have drunk one as a kid, try one now. You'll understand what it means to be young at heart.
From: Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
6-8 ounces ginger ale (or Sprite or 7-Up)
1 tablespoon grenadine (or more to taste; use Rose's for that classic red color)
Maraschino cherry (the bright red bottled kind for authenticity), for garnish
1. Fill a Collins glass with ice.
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2. Fill glass almost to the top with ginger ale.
3. Add grenadine to taste and stir ingredients to combine.
4. Top with one or more maraschino cherries. And don't forget the straw.
5. Grab a DVD of The Littlest Rebel or Heidi and enjoy.