Sheila’s Dirty Shirley



As a woman in her late 20’s (OK well I guess I’m officially 30 as of the solstice) I attend quite a few weddings throughout the summer. The invitations have been slowing recently as a majority of my close friends are now married but there’s usually at least a couple tucked into my summer schedule. If the bartenders are willing, my go to wedding cocktail is an old fashioned. Simple but strong enough to get the job done. Sheila’s go to wedding cocktail is a little different – it’s the Dirty Shirley. Not familiar with it? It’s a Shirley Temple with vodka. It’s quite tasty but it often raises a few eyebrows. Typically I’m the one getting drinks for the two of us and without a doubt I get carded every time I order a Dirty Shirley, every time.

There’s definitely no judgment on my end though. Shirley Temples were my absolute favorite thing as a kid. It was the best part of going anywhere even remotely fancy – a cousin’s wedding, a family vacation or even dinner out at the steakhouse. You just felt a little bit more adult sipping on the wildly sweet grenadine and 7 Up concoction. With tart cherries in season I decided to whip up our own version of a Dirty Shirley. Homemade cherry syrup stands in for the grenadine and lemon and lime juice are added to make up for the lack of 7 Up. The result is like candy in a glass but with a kick!


We tested these Dirty Shirleys out on the 4th of July when we had some family over to celebrate my 30th birthday as well as our recent engagement! Yes, we’re engaged!!! Sheila and I have been together for nearly 10 years and I popped the question the morning of my birthday which just so happens to be the summer solstice. A cherished day of light signifying new beginnings, the summer solstice seemed the perfect day for such a joyful celebration. I am truly the luckiest person to have found such a loving, remarkably intelligent, fiercely passionate and undeniably captivating woman to spend the rest of my life with! I am a better person because of her and am inspired by her drive and creativity. With such a long courtship we have decided on a short engagement and are planning a November wedding. After all we are wedding professionals so a 4 month engagement shouldn’t prove too difficult, right?! So mix up this Dirty Shirely and raise a glass to us! Cheers!

Sheila’s Dirty Shirley

2 oz vodka
1 oz to 1.5 oz Tart Cherry Syrup (Recipe Below)
Juice from half a lime (about 1/4 oz)
Juice from half a lemon (about 1/4 oz)
Seltzer water

Combine the vodka, cherry syrup, lemon and lime juice in a shaker with ice. (If you like things on the sweeter side use 1.5 oz of the Cherry syrup) Shake until cold and pour into a glass over ice. Top off with seltzer water and garnish with a frozen pitted cherry and a slice of lemon.

Tart Cherry Syrup
4 cups pitted tart cherries (do yourself a favor and buy a cherry pitter, I’ll wait here)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for one hour. Let cool and strain the syrup into a jar. You can reserve the cherries for other uses (top ice cream, spread on toast, etc) or just toss them.