This cocktail is basically an elevated, less-sweet version of the traditional Dirty Shirley! Made with vodka, orange liqueur, grenadine, fresh lime, and lemon soda, it’s a simple, refreshing cocktail for any time of the year. I like making these orange Dirty Shirley cocktails for bachelorette parties, bridal showers, birthday parties, and more!

An orange dirty Shirley cocktail on a marble plate next to a jar of cherries, limes, and alcohol bottles with a pink background.

Earlier this summer, the New York Times declared the Dirty Shirley the drink of the summer and the retired sorority girl in me lost her damn mind. Back in college, my friends and I would sit on the floor of my living room watching movies, eating snacks, and drinking way too many Dirty Shirleys. They were the pre-game drink of choice while applying eyeshadow before winter formals. I’m sure many a bartender rolled their eyes when we’d drunkenly roll up to the bar requesting a round for the whole party.

This was clearly before drinking more than 2 sweet cocktails gave me an instant hangover. 🙃

Anywayyyys, to find a solution for my now 27 year old stomach, I went ahead and created a Dirty Shirley that’s a little more headache proof! Let’s get into it.

About the orange Dirty Shirley

If you’re like, “ok, but what even is a Dirty Shirley?” it’s basically just a boozy version of the Shirley Temple. Which is kind of ironic because the Shirley Temple was created as a mocktail in the first place. But I digress. A traditional Shirley Temple has ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda) and grenadine. The grown up version has a shot of vodka and maybe a twist.

Since I’m typically a fan of a stronger, whiskey-forward cocktail like old fashioneds, I really wanted to make a version that’s elevated and less sweet! In this recipe, we’re adding orange liqueur because it complements the grenadine and adds a lovely citrusy note. We’ll replace the ginger ale/lemon-lime soda with artisan sparkling lemon soda because it makes for a drier drink. And then we’ll garnish it with plenty of boozy cherries because, well, why not?

The ingredient list

The best part of the orange Dirty Shirley is that it tastes like a bar-worthy cocktail but only requires 5 ingredients. (Ok, 6 if you use boozy cherries, but it’s optional!) Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vodka – I like 10 Torr’s vodka because it’s local and super affordable! For a more mainstream brand, I use New Amsterdam or even Kirkland.
  • Orange liqueur – for this recipe, I recommend Triple Sec. It’s less overpowering than Grand Marnier while still having plenty of orange flavor.
  • Grenadine – I love a good high-quality version from the liquor store. But honestly, any will do!
  • Lemon soda – go with a higher quality brand like San Pellegrino or Lorina sparkling lemonade. You can usually find these brands in the soda section of the grocery store.
  • Fresh lime juice – for a little tartness and balance.
  • Boozy cherries – totally optional. But I think they’re fun!

How to make this recipe!

This is maybe one of the easiest cocktails you could ever make. You simply mix everything together in a glass and serve. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a glass all the way to the top with ice.
  2. Next, pour the vodka, orange liqueur, and grenadine over the ice.
  3. Finish with a splash of lemon soda over the top. Add a squeeze of lime and garnish with boozy cherries, if desired.

Make it in a can

This is for the lazy girlies. If you want to save a dish or just can’t bother to pour something (been there), make an orange Dirty Shirley in a can instead! Just keep in mind that the recipe calls for 4 ounces of lemon soda and cans typically have 12 ounces. So, the cocktail will be a little more diluted but will still taste great!

  1. First, take a few good swigs out of a can of lemon soda.
  2. Next, add the vodka, orange liqueur, grenadine, and a squeeze of lime to the can.
  3. Gently swirl the can to combine. (Or, use a straw). Enjoy!

For a crowd

This is the perfect cocktail for a party or get-together! Since it’s super easy and quick to make, you can mix these cocktails up all night long for your friendsies. When it comes to making this cocktail for a crowd, you have two options:

  1. Make it in advance – mix the vodka, orange liqueur, grenadine, and lime juice in a pitcher. Right before serving, add the lemon soda. Stir well and serve immediately over ice.
  2. Have an orange Dirty Shirley bar – set out all the ingredients and let your friends serve themselves!

I love making these drinks for:

  • Bachelorette parties or bridal showers
  • Baby showers (so you can have mocktail versions too!)
  • Birthday parties
  • Pool parties or movie nights
  • Girls’ night in!

Other spirits you can use

If you’re not a vodka fan, you can replace it with silver rum or tequila! Keep the Triple Sec for the citrus note. Grand Marnier would also be delicious with tequila if you want a Cadillac margarita-inspired drink. While I have not tried this recipe bourbon (or any whiskey) yet, I think it would be totally delicious! I also think gin would be delicious – almost like a gin daisy!

Soda being poured into a pink cocktail placed on a white plate. In the back is another cocktail and a jar of cherries on a pink background.

Can I make this recipe with lemon-lime soda?

Totally! If you like a sweeter cocktail, you can always use traditional Sprite or 7UP. Ginger ale or ginger beer will also work. If you can’t find gourmet lemon soda, try using half lemon-lime soda and half club soda. It’ll give you a bit of sweetness but won’t be as syrupy as traditional Shirleys!

If you want a less sweet orange Dirty Shirley, leave out the lemon soda and use lemon-flavored seltzer instead. You’ll still get some nice sweetness from the Triple sec and grenadine but it won’t be as intense.

What is grenadine?

Contrary to popular belief, grenadine actually isn’t cherry syrup! Grenadine is a pomegranate-flavored syrup named after the French word for pomegranate – grenade. It’s made out of pomegranate juice, lemon, and sugar which is why it’s a bit tart. I think that’s why I love it so much when combined with the orange liqueur. Pomegranate + orange is one of my favorite flavor combos!

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • If you can’t find boozy cherries, use regular Maraschino cherries or just leave them out.
  • Use a highball glass. Between 10-12 ounces is good!
  • Give the cocktail a good stir before serving to mix up all the different flavors. The grenadine will sink to the bottom and you probably don’t want to get a mouthful of it!
  • For a less boozy cocktail, use 1 ounce of vodka and 1/2 oz. of Triple Sec.
  • For a sweeter cocktail, use 1 ounce of grenadine instead of 1/2 ounce.
An orange dirty Shirley cocktail on a marble tray next to a jar of cherries, limes, and bottles of alcohol on a pink table.

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Orange Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
These orange Dirty Shirley cocktails are the best for bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and parties! It's a fancy, less-sweet version of the traditional Dirty Shirley with vodka, orange liqueur, grenadine, fresh lime, and lemon soda. It's simple, fun, and super refreshing!


For a single cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz grenadine*
  • 4 oz lemon soda**
  • Lime wedges
  • Boozy cherries or Maraschino cherries, for garnish (optional)

For a batch cocktail (8 drinks)***

  • 1 1/2 c vodka
  • 1/2 c Triple sec
  • 1 c grenadine
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 4 c lemon soda
  • Boozy cherries or Maraschino cherries, for garnish (optional)


  • High ball glasses, pitcher, or punch bowl


For a single cocktail

  • Fill a highball glass to the top with ice. Pour the vodka, Triple sec, and grenadine over the ice.
  • Next, add the lemon soda. Add a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Garnish the orange Dirty Shirley with boozy cherries and lime wedges, if desired. Stir gently right before enjoying.

For a batch cocktail

  • In a pitcher or punch bowl, add the vodka, Triple Sec, grenadine, and lime juice. Stir, cover, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve the cocktail.
  • Right before serving, add the lemon soda. Stir well to combine. Serve over ice and garnish with boozy cherries and lime wedges, if desired.


*For a sweeter cocktail, use 1 ounce of grenadine.
**I like San Pellegrino Limonata or Lorina sparkling lemonade. If you want a less sweet cocktail, use lemon seltzer in place of the lemon soda.
***You can double or triple the recipe for a larger crowd.
Cuisine: American
Course: Drinks
Serving: 1cocktail, Calories: 287kcal, Carbohydrates: 39.2g, Sodium: 5mg, Potassium: 21mg, Sugar: 50.5g
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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Soft Drink by Cherry Glazerr