Shirley Temple sorbet

The late Shirley Temple, arguably one of the biggest film child stars of all times, is also connected to the internationally famous ‘mocktail’ which bears her name. As a tribute to the icon, we will turn this (alcohol-free) cocktail into a playful and refreshing sorbet.



Shirley Temple – undisputed child star of the 1930’s. Later in life, she would (amongst other things) serve as US Ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia. And apparently, she hated the Shirley Temple mocktail!

The exact origin of the Shirley Temple mocktail seems a bit difficult to acertain: apparently, Chasen’s restaurant in Beverly Hills, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, or The Brown Derby in Los Angeles all claim to be the place where the then-young star first was served this now classic drink. Shirley Temple herself had little to do with the drink, however, and according to some sources, actually hated the drink, considering it icky and far too sweet!

Regardless of this, there is also debates about the “proper” recipe. Some claim that the “original” Shirley Temple drink contained orange juice alongside ginger ale. Others favour combinations of ginger ale and lemon-lime soda (today possibly in the form of 7 up or Sprite), and the proportions also tend to vary.

Most however, seem to agree that:

(a) a splash of grenadine should be added,

(b) maraschino cherries should be involved,  and that

(c) the alcohol-version (sometimes called Shirley Temple Black, after Shirley Temple’s name as married) should contain some vodka and some orange juice: something which might be interesting for those of you who would like to re-create one of those 😉 .


Mixing the Shirley Temple sorbet base

Mindful of the existing varieties, I did some mixing of my own and ended up with equal parts ginger ale and lemon-lime soda, half a part of orange juice and some grenadine. While the maraschino cherries well could be cut in pieces and added to the very sorbet itself, I decided to stay true to the original and just use them for final decoration.

As you can see, I used store-bought soft drinks, but if you like you could well test making your own sodas (here, for instance, is a seemingly simple method for creating one’s own ginger ale from real ginger and lemon peel).


Ginger Ale and lemon-lime soda: the two main soft drinks used to mix a Shirley Temple. In addition, I added some orange juice and a little grenadine, which definitely adds to the overall flavour.

Since the soft drinks and the orange juice contain almost no solids and so much water, the main task (apart from getting good working proportions for the final flavour) is really to add enough extra sugar to the sorbet base.

As many of you know already, soft drinks and fruit juices are – when it comes to sorbets – typically not sugary enough on their own. In order to avoid an undesired, too icy consistency, we need to add more sugar. To improve the consistency without making the flavour too sweet, I also opted for adding some of the sugar in the form of inverted sugar (here, Agave nectar).

After blending all the ingredients together, check the sugar level of the base with the Egg test, or use more sophisticated means.


Soft drinks come carbonated – keep that in mind when using the Egg Test: the pictured egg is actually not kept afloat by the sugar content but by carbon dioxide bubbles. A read-out of the Egg Test at this moment would indicate a too sweet blend (calling for more dilution), which would lead totally wrong.


A few minutes later, following some careful whisking and the addition of further sugar, the Egg Test gives an accurate reading – the sorbet base should now be sugary enough!

Once the sugar content has been ‘calibrated’, preferably chill the base in the refrigerator (you can cut the maraschino cherries in pieces in the meantime, in case you plan to mix them into the sorbet rather than using them as decorative toppings).

Churn the base in your ice cream machine. If you would like to mix in (pieces of ) maraschino cherries, add them towards the very end of the churning (if you add them too early, they will only sink and end up in the bottom of your batch …). Or blending them into the sorbet right after the churning.

Personally, I chose to garnish each serving of the sorbet with a maraschino cherry rather than going for mix-ins (thus keeping closer to the cocktail-style).


Shirley Temple sorbet

The Shirley Temple sorbet turned out to be a big hit. The kids and their friends let out deligthed shouts (“What IS this goodness?!”), and kept coming back for more – the batch was gone in an instant. But I should add that the Shirley Temple was well-liked also by the grown-ups: the overall flavour is clearly more adult than what could be expected from a simple mixture of soft drinks. While the main flavour impact comes from the ginger ale, the other ingredients (notably the grenadine and the orange juice) clearly contribute here, leading to a much more interesting overall flavour.

As to consistency and texture, this sorbet leans towards the more ‘slushy’, fast-melting side. No wonder, since it consists almost exclusive of liquids (compared to sorbets prepared with more solids, like those based on fruits). This is not really a big problem, however, as this only serves to make the sorbet feel closer to the original cocktail. Serve in suitable glasses, top with the cherries and enjoy while still fresh!

Shirley Temple sorbet
The sorbet-version of the classic and popular (alcohol-free) mock-cocktail, named after the late movie child star Shirley Temple sure proved to be popular also with kids of today (and their parents)! With virtually no solids to boost the consistency, this refreshing sorbet is best enjoyed fresh!
  • 300 ml (about 1.25 cup) ginger ale
  • 300 ml (about 1.25 cup) lemon-lime soda
  • 100 ml (about 0.4 cup) orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons grenadine
  • 3 tablespoons inverted sugar (like Agave nectar)
  • about 6 tablespoons sugar (= enough to sweeten the base sufficiently)
  • Maraschino cherries for decoration (or, possibly, chopped up and used as mix-ins)
  1. Mix all the ingredients together, ensuring that all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Check the overall sugar level to ensure that it is adequate for a sorbet (for instance, by using the Egg test).
  3. Once the sugar level is right, churn the sorbet base in your ice cream machine (or still-freeze, using your freezer).
  4. Enjoy right after churning or store in a freezer-safe container; cover with plastic film and a lid.
  5. Serve in suitable high glasses or the like, and decorate each serving with a maraschino cherry on top.


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