As with many cocktails, the story of how the Shirley Temple cocktail got it's name is steeped in legend, mystery and speculation. Shirley Temple was the name of an American film star who began her acting career at the age of two in 1932 and by 1934 she had shot to worldwide fame for her role in the feature film Bright Eyes. Temple's acting career peaked between the mid-to-late thirties, and during this time it is conceivable that she would have been attending the usual glitzy celebrity events and parties. Being too young to drink alcohol at these events, legend has it that this non-alcoholic cocktail was especially created for her by a bartender- and that the name has stuck ever since!
The cocktail recipe itself is subject to some debate, but is generally served as a combination of lemon/lime soda (or fresh lemon and/or lime juice added to club soda), ginger ale (sometimes omitted), and grenadine. Nowadays the the lemon/lime soda used is generally 7-up or Sprite, and some recipes include the addition of orange juice. The drink is finished with a maraschino cherry as a garnish and is often served with a cocktail stirrer as the drink is simply 'built' by pouring the ingredients over ice.
Three Claims To Fame
Although it is commonly agreed that the emergence of a Shirley Temple cocktail can be attributed to the late thirties, the exact location and creator is still hotly disputed.
One establishment claiming to be the home of the Shirley Temple cocktail is Chasen's restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. The restaurant opened it's doors in 1936, and claims that one of their bartenders created the drink for Shirley Temple, a regular patron of the restaurant, and that the non-alcoholic concoction became popular with preteens ever since.
A related thread based on this theory is that the drink was created at Chasen's at an event to celebrate Temple's tenth birthday party.
A second establishment claiming to have created the Shirley Temple cocktail is the Royal Hawaiian- a hotel located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and known as the 'Pink Palace of the Pacific'. Shirley Temple is known to have frequented the hotel in the 1930s, and this is a perfectly plausible possibility.
One last contender thrown into the mix is the Brown Derby chain of restaurants, hailing from Los Angeles, California. The chain enjoyed popularity in the Hollywood heydays of the 1930s and is reported to have marketed several mixed drinks with celebrity names; among them, a soda and grenadine combination called the Shirley Temple!
Shirley has the last word
Wherever the true birthplace of the drink might be, one thing that is certain is that it's popularity has withstood the test of time; the Shirley Temple cocktail is the archetypal non-alcoholic cocktail, and has gone on to inspire an array of 'mocktails' or 'virgin' cocktails.
Interestingly enough, it is actually reported that Shirley Temple never actually liked the drink and even went so far as to say she "opposed the concept of cocktails (even non-alcoholic) for children.
She went on to legally intervene in two different beverage manufacturers' attempts at bottling a soda and grenadine based drink under her name. Temple went on the apply herself successfully to various business and political projects, including the very 'sober' role of US ambassador to Ghana and then Czechoslovakia.