The Dirty Shirley quickly made headlines as the drink of the summer 2022. But with its ingredients bucking all contemporary industry trends, can the high-sugar, high-alcohol cocktail survive Memorial Day?
According to New York Times food journalist, Becky Hughes, the answer is yes.
“Like most things in pop culture, drink tastes swing back and forth — when there are trends like low-alcohol spirits, low-calorie cocktails and low-fat wines. intervention, it is inevitable that an opposite trend will emerge in reaction,” Hughes told Forbes.
Dirty Shirley is constructed similarly to the kid-favorite fluorescent cherry soda, mixing grenadine with lemon-lime soda (like Sprite or 7Up) – known as Shirley Temple – then spiked with your favorite spirit. Hughes opts for vodka in her recipe, denoting its neutrality, however, she says she has also made it with tequila, rum and acknowledges that some people may even choose gin.
“The Dirty Shirley isn’t anything low – it’s bright and sweet and quite boozy,” Hughes pointed out about what makes this counterculture cocktail so unique, and may just give it the upper hand. as the espresso martini of summer 2021 or the Aperol Spritz of summer 2020 (although some would say, the spritz isn’t going out of style anytime soon).
“Last summer’s espresso martini trend came right alongside the 90s resurgence in fashion and pop culture,” Hughes said, continuing, “I see the Dirty Shirley the same way: while the 2000s nostalgia proliferates (“indie sleaze”, as it was called in the fashion world), it stands to reason that an extremely ’00’s drink would become popular now. Hughes draws the comparison that most babies 90s might not want to acknowledge: Those in their mid-twenties drank Shirley Temples regularly in the early days – now they’re adults, she adds, hence the alcohol addition.
With Hughes’ nostalgic reasoning, it’s no wonder Dirty Shirley resonates with millennials, bringing back the carefree mentality of youth, where carbs, calories and fake sugar didn’t matter, so long that was good. It comes down to comfort, suggests Hughes. “There is a lot of comfort in the food and drink choices we make, and comfort is paramount in this time that is not yet post-pandemic; people seek nostalgia wherever they can.
As to whether the Dirty Shirley can truly become the reigning cocktail of the summer, Hughes says it doesn’t matter, concluding, “It’s going to be the summer when we drink whatever tastes good for you – and for some people, I think it will be the Dirty Shirley.