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Don't Drink a "Dirty Shirley"

C'mon people, we're better than this

He's not drinking a Shirley Temple, is he?

Littlebit made herself Shirley Temple the other day. Of course I didn’t drink Shirley Temples as a child, I preferred a Hardy Boy – because in the Cold War gender roles were still a thing. It’s like a Shirley Temple, but made with Coca Cola because the one thing a spastic eight-year old boy needs is more caffeine. Besides, it matched the vibe I was trying to put off with my Archie Manning jersey. As I understand it, there is nothing in The Book of Manning about a Shirley Temple.

Then she told me told me that the “Dirty Shirley” – the same with a slug of vodka – was christened by the New York Times as the Drink of the Summer. First of all, the national paper of record should have grown up things to cover. Secondly, a Dirty Shirley is just a spiked kid’s drink. Even one that’s lousy with vodka. If you don’t see the problem with spiking kids drinks, then ask yourself if you’d ever make a White Russian from breast milk. No, gentle reader, no you would not.

My logic here is unassailable but in full disclosure I am of the age where I consider white claw a kid’s drink. And to restate the (probably unheeded) advice I gave Littlebit on her way to college four years ago: “If you know it has alcohol in it, and you can’t taste it, tread lightly.”

Adult beverages should be just that – adult: Somewhat honest, straightforward and a little harsh. Sweeten to taste, but not too much, that’s a recipe for a hangover. You shouldn’t want to still be drinking kid’s drinks anyway; you can get sued, your felonies stay on your record. That’s heavy stuff. A Shirley Temple is made for the citizens of a different world: one where “sharing” is thing and a fat elf replaces all your stuff every year after you’ve dragged a tree into your house. The adults backing Santa’s largess do not share, not really. Buy your own damn motorcycle, Spanky

I do get why these cocktails are so popular – one look at what the streaming channels have on offer and it appears that the put-upon model of human called “adult” is being phased out by... well hell, someone is going to come up with a new word and they aren’t going to ask me. It’s the sort of thing that leaves me scrolling through World War II documentaries and making a drink my grandfather would have recognized – whisky soda? gin & tonic? An old fashioned? Which is about when it dawns on you, looking at that old war footage, that these kids invading North Africa or Normandy and fighting (and let's face it, screwing) their way up Italy and across France were in their early twenties and late teens. When they got triggered, a bullet was traveling at - or away from- them at great, fatal velocity. If my grandfather’s stories are to be believed, these fellas drank pretty much anything that they could get their hands on.

As for me, to prove I’m not as old as this post makes me sound, I’m going to watch that Harry Styles beach movie, Dunkirk, and pour myself the sort of a summer cocktail that I can feel in my nasopharynx, and ponder the great questions of our age. Namely, how do you even order something called a Dirty Shirley with a straight face?


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