Food and Drink

How Did the Shirley Temple Become the OG Mocktail?

And why this grenadine darling has stood the test of time.

Design by Maggie Rosseti for Thrillist
Design by Maggie Rosseti for Thrillist
Design by Maggie Rosseti for Thrillist

This past fall, I was sitting at a marble bar in a New York City restaurant, reading a book and waiting on a burger. A server came up to the bartender to put in a ticket. “Is this right?” the bartender asked. “Yup, eight Shirley Temples.” I watched the server deliver the cherry-red drinks, in skinny pint glasses with striped straws sticking out, to a table of women well over 21 years old. Wow, I thought, people are still ordering these.My Shirley Temples associations begin and end with childhood memories of ordering the drink at a steakhouse when my parents got cocktails. The snappy maraschino cherry, sizzling 7-Up, and silky grenadine syrup were all very distant memories. But as spirit-free cocktails have become commonplace on menus and zero-proof books and products line more shelves, I wondered if Shirley Temples were making a comeback-or if they ever really went away at all?

“The ingredients in a Shirley Temple are common ones found behind a bar and used in a lot of cocktails: lemon-lime soda or ginger ale and grenadine,” says Derek Brown, who owns DC bars Columbia Room and Disco Mary and just released the book Mindful Mixology. “For a very long time, if you were ordering a non-alcoholic drink, there weren’t many options besides that or a Roy Rogers. And any time something has been around for a long time, there’s a reason.”The invention of the Shirley Temple dates back to, of course, the actress Shirley Temple. Hollywood lore has it that, in the 1930s, the child actress was dining at legendary restaurant Chasen’s and wanted to have a cocktail she was allowed to drink.

“Not a lot of young stars were going to big, swanky restaurants like that,” says Alison Martino, a LA historian and contributor to Los Angeles Magazine. “So it was probably a big deal for her to go in and they wanted to make her feel like she was an adult. When I went into Chasen’s as a kid, our server would always ask, ‘Would you like a Shirley Temple, like the actress?'”

Underwood Archives /Archive Photos/Getty Images
Underwood Archives /Archive Photos/Getty Images
Underwood Archives /Archive Photos/Getty Images

Chasen’s was “Old Hollywood personified,” Martino remembers, saying she saw Frank Sinatra there and her parents would see Elizabeth Taylor and Clint Eastwood. It was all windowless wood paneling and decadent red leather booths-some of which sold for a pretty penny at auction when the restaurant closed in 1995.

Besides its star-studded guest list (and famous chili that Taylor would have shipped to her all over the world), the lasting legacy of Chasen’s is the Shirley Temple cocktail. Kids of all eras continue to order the drink to feel fancy. One such kid, Leo Kelly, aka the Shirley Temple King, started giving critiques of the drink on Instagram at age 6 and even launched his own line of the drink that includes cotton candy and ice cream as garnishes. Holy sugar rush.But there are craftier and more sophisticated versions of Shirley Temples out there, both on cocktail menus and on shelves. Plus, companies like Jack Rudy and Liber & Co. are making grenadine with quality, natural ingredients that give that dusty bottle of Rose’s in your grandparents’ pantry a run for its money.

“Grenadine is really cool because it has this combination of exoticism and universal appeal,” says Adam Higginbotham, the co-founder of Austin-based Liber & Co. “Everyone knows it as a sweet-tart fruit syrup that is this gorgeous red color. But it has a lot of complex floral and tannic elements to it, too.”

Photo courtesy of Liber & Co.
Photo courtesy of Liber & Co.
Photo courtesy of Liber & Co.

Perhaps the allure of the Shirley Temple is tied to grenadine itself. Most people assume, like I did for decades, that grenadine is just cherry simple syrup. And there’s the commonly held belief that it’s actually pomegranate juice (pomegranate in French is grenade, after all). Then, just last year, an essay came out from drink historian Darcy O’Neill positing that, depending on the era, grenadine has been made with all sorts of ingredients including clove oil, maraschino liqueur, and even raspberry essence.

No matter what it’s made of (in Liber’s case, it’s California-sourced pomegranate, orange blossom water, and cane sugar), grenadine is a bar staple. You’ll find it in everything from Trader Vic-style tiki drinks to Hurricanes on Bourbon Street. The syrup’s ubiquity is another huge reason why Shirley Temples have stuck around. Any bar, anywhere, can make you one.For Higginbotham, the drink brings him back to a road trip he took to a small town in Central Texas with his grandparents. They stopped into an old fashioned soda shop in a town square and that’s where he sipped on his first one. “I associate it with that middle America, diner experience,” he says. “My grandmother probably made it with Rose’s and ginger ale and it made you feel way more grown up than just having an ice cream cone.”

Judging that it’s one of Liber’s more popular of its 16 syrups, Higginbotham thinks people are making a rediscovery of grenadine and, by proxy, Shirley Temples. He says he likes hearing about more modern versions made with small-batch ginger beer or freshly squeezed lime juice.Brown, who says he was more of a soda and Slurpee kind of kid, admits that fresh lime juice and housemade grenadine are surely improvements on the classic Shirley Temple. But he hopes that people realize the drink is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to non-alcoholic options these days.

“For some people, Dry January is just a month and for others, it’s their whole life,” Brown says. “This is about choices and there should be options that are low- and no-alcohol on every menu that, in all fairness, go well beyond the Shirley Temple.”But the fact remains that Shirley has staying power. This is a drink invented for a young Hollywood starlet almost a century ago that is still being ordered today-on viral Instagram accounts and in bars on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

“I still order them about once a week, it’s the truth,” Martino says with a laugh. “Sometimes waiters think it’s charming and some can’t believe I’m serious. I don’t know if it’s a childhood thing of feeling safe or what. But when they’re done right, they’re just delicious.”

Photo courtesy of Liber & Co.
Photo courtesy of Liber & Co.
Photo courtesy of Liber & Co.

Liber Shirley Temple Recipe

Ingredients:
• ½ ounces Fiery Ginger Syrup
• ½ ounces Real Grenadine
• ¾ ounces lime juice
• 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
• soda water

Directions:
Add syrups, lime juice and bitters to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and stir. Service in a highball glass garnished with a lime wheel and cherry.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Jess Mayhugh is the editorial director of Food & Drink for Thrillist, who sipped her first Shirley Temple at a Steak and Ale. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Food and Drink

How Talking Terps Has Influenced Cannabis Hype Culture

The origins and optimism behind the cannabis brand that sells out drops within minutes. Canabis...

Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain
Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain
Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain

Many cannabis brands describe themselves as “lifestyle brands” and “cultural disruptors.” Few of them actually impact lifestyles or broader cultural trends. Only one of them has figurines up on Stock X right now.

“For OG Terp Crawford to be featured amongst Nike, Jordans, Supreme, BAPE, and PS5s is really sick,” says Hope Lord, co-founder of cannabis lifestyle brand Talking Terps. “Stock X is not taking everyone who makes a toy and putting it up there.”Between their psychedelic graphics, cannabis-adjacent accessories, and famous OG Terp Crawford figurine, Talking Terps has established a cult following amongst cannabis enthusiasts, hypebeasts, and beyond. On paper, it’s a lifestyle brand interested in both cannabis and psychedelics. In action, Talking Terps is an alternative universe that bridges the gaps between toy culture, cannabis culture, psychedelic culture, and American pop culture.

The brand was established as a concept in 2015 by Leor Feit aka Hope Lord, Flatbush Zombies member Antonio Lewis aka Zombie Juice, and Flatbush Zombies spiritual adviser Phil Annand aka PTA Haiti 3000. One year later, the phrase “talking terps” popped in a Flatbush Zombies song, referring to terpenes, a compound found in cannabis.

“We had a show at Red Rocks in Colorado,” Lord recalls. “I had a friend that was part of Blue River Terpenes who brought us the first sample of cannabis-derived terpenes. Then Juice and Erick made a song with it in the chorus.”

Talking Terps
Talking Terps
Talking Terps

Once Talking Terps emerged as a phrase, the graphics, accessories, apparel, events, and, of course, toys were soon to follow. By 2017, the phrase was spotted on one of Snoop Dogg’s t-shirts. In 2019, the concept of Terp Crawford was born, launching the brand towards the collectible toy game.

While the first Terp Crawford was technically a plush pillow, the first toy-named OG Terp Crawford-came in March 2020. The 6-inch tall vinyl sculpture of a humanized weed nug with a joint in his hand and a smile on his face is meant to embody everything Hope, Juice and PTA stand for.

“Our message is to love each other and be happy,” Lord says. “Tread lightly and disrupt nothing.”OG Terp Crawford drops sell out in actual seconds and resell on sites like Stock X for over double their retail price. More than a simple toy, he’s a figure that Talking Terps hopes will evolve into a full-on cartoon character.

“As time goes, the idea for Terp Crawford is for him to be a Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny type figure from our world that can cross over,” Lord says. “There should be no reason one day that Terp Crawford’s not throwing a football in some skit on Monday Night Football.”

That’s not just a high aspiration-the team is currently working with 3 Hearts Entertainment to develop a TV show around him. The goal is for Terp Crawford to go global and for Talking Terps to go meta. With their vast graphic library and club of TT enthusiasts, virtual collectibles like NFTs only make sense (though the team can’t let the terp out of the hat just yet).

“I can see Terp Crawford in Japan, speaking in Japanese on TV,” Lord muses. “Once we take him somewhere else, we could do big sculptures, like at KAWS level, maybe. I think we’ll get a TV show. I can’t speak too much on what we’re working on for the metaverse, but it’s got a lot of components. I can say that we’re building a whole new platform called the meta-forest.”

It’s safe to say there will be a sold-out waitlist to get into that forest.
Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Danté Jordan is a freelance writer, video producer, and media consultant specializing in cannabis culture and education. Follow him on Instagram.

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