When I was just about to start the third grade, my family moved from Casper, Wyoming to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Not too long after we moved, our family went out to dinner to a nice restaurant over on Cochran Run Road around the Mt. Lebanon-Green Tree border. (No, not Max & Erma’s. Up the hill a bit, closer to Mt. Lebanon. By the state store. No, it’s not there any more. Last I saw, it was a fabric store. This was twenty-some years ago. It was the place we ate at, then something else, then a fabric store. Yes, I am sure it wasn’t a Max & Erma’s. Edit– No, not The Colony either. )
This dinner sticks out in my mind because it was the first time I ever had a Shirley Temple. Our table wasn’t ready, the adults in the party were getting drinks at the bar and the bartender asked, “Would you like a Shirley Temple?” What? There are drinks at the bar for kids? Heck yes, I would like a Shirley Temple!
It even looked grown-up, with the layer of grenadine at the bottom of the glass underneath the ginger ale the cherry laid careful on top of the ice. My brother had been given a Roy Rogers, but that just looked like a regular old Coke with a cherry. My drink was fancy!
To this day, I’m a huge fan of Shirley Temples. Some made with orange juice, some made with ginger ale (still my favorite) and sometimes even made lemon-lime soda. Cherry without being overwhelmingly cloy like many fruit sodas, what’s not to love.
So the other week when college football podcaster Michael Felder posted a picture of his Miller High Life with two maraschino cherries in it, you could have knocked me over with a feather. An alcoholic Shirley Temple? Could it be done? I like High Life (my go-to brand for making light beer batter) and I like Shirley Temples, but would I like them together?
A taste test was in order, but not one where anyone could see the shame on my face in case they didn’t work out. Pro Bowl weekend. Since my fellow Pro Bowl loving buddy Holly Anderson now lives 2000 miles away, I was going to be on my own for the Pro Bowl.
You will need:
1 shot (1 1/2 ounces) grenadine
1-2 maraschino cherries
1 Miller High Life
Miller High Life is rather bubbly — they don’t call it the Champagne of Beers for nothing — so it matches the carbonation of ginger ale rather nicely.
Add the grenadine and the cherries to the bottom of a pint glass.
Pour in the High Life.
If you want, you can fool around and make it a bit more sour with kirschwasser or cherry bitters, but I found that they took away from the traditional Shirley Temple profile.
Compare to the bottled Shirley Temple you already had in the fridge!
This drink shouldn’t work. It has no business tasting as good as it does. The sparkly High Life makes the grenadine pop, while cutting through the sweetness all at the same time. Bry kept stealing sips from my glass, asking over and over, “How can it taste this good?”
According to Wikipedia, there is a cocktail out there called the Queen Mary that is grenadine and beer, but aside of Wikipedia and content farm type sites culling information from Wikipedia, I cannot find a single legitimate cocktail recipe for this drink anywhere.
Also according to Wikipedia, the character Mary Coombs orders a beer with a shot of grenadine in the Peter Fonda chase movie, DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY. Since I didn’t recall seeing a pink-hued beer in that film (I went through a horrible Peter Fonda obsession after he gently flirted with me at an after-party for some revival screening of THE HIRED HAND about nine or ten years ago), I re-watched it this morning via Netflix streaming.
Yep, she orders a beer with a shot of grenadine in it alright, but the bartender certainly doesn’t give her a beer with grenadine, nor does she request or receive the cherries required for a Shirley Temple-type drink.
Let this day be the day we give the High Shirley its due. Like the Pro Bowl, the High Shirley is fun, nonsensical to people on the outside, slightly embarrassing to explain why you like it, offensive to purists, goofy in a Drew-Brees-to-kick-the-extra-point sort of way and not something you’re likely to want every weekend.
But it doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
I said “legitimate” source!
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- 1 shot (1½ ounces) grenadine
- 1-2 maraschino cherries
- 1 bottle of Miller High Life
- Put the grenadine and the cherries at the bottom of a pint glass.
- Pour in bottle of Miller High Life