What Exactly Goes Into A Roy Rogers Drink?

Roy Rogers in glass with maraschino cherry
Roy Rogers in glass with maraschino cherry - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Non-alcoholic cocktails are all the rage these days, with creative mocktail recipes going viral on social media and some alcohol brands debuting zero-proof products. However, fancy drinks made to imitate alcohol beverages are nothing new. You've probably heard of the Shirley Temple, an old-fashioned mocktail named after the famous actress, but it might be a surprising to learn that it has a manly-sounding relative -- nicknamed "the King of the Cowboys" -- that is also alcohol-free.

The Roy Rogers drink, which has become underappreciated over the years, is named after a man who's also slightly less recognizable these days. The real Roy Rogers was an actor and musician famous for appearing in silver screen Hollywood westerns throughout the 1930s to the 1950s. And though the word "cowboy" might make you think of all sorts of rough-and-tumble behavior, Rogers himself didn't drink alcohol — thus, the Roy Rogers drink, also called a cherry cola.

A Roy Rogers is actually simpler than the cherry colas you might buy at the store. It uses only cola, grenadine, and a maraschino cherry garnish. Like the Shirley Temple, this beverage may be thought of as a kids' drink, but there's no law stating that grown-ups can't drink it. Essentially, it's your favorite cola gussied up with some sweet, fruity flavor, and who would object to serving that up at a cocktail party, so everyone can enjoy a nice mixed drink?

Read more: The 14 Best Sugar-Free Sodas Ranked

The Roy Rogers Is (Allegedly) For Boys

Two Roy Rogers on either side of a Shirley Temple
Two Roy Rogers on either side of a Shirley Temple - Gaudii/Shutterstock

Because of its similarity to the Shirley Temple, a Roy Rogers is often thought as the former drink's counterpart. Some even say that in the 1950s and 60s, the Roy Rogers was seen as the "boy" version of the Shirley. It's kind of silly to imagine sodas as being gendered, but we can see how the more masculine name, and somewhat less colorful appearance, might make the boys at the soda fountain a little more comfortable in such a conformist time period.

The main difference between these drinks is that a Shirley Temple uses clear ginger ale or lemon-lime soda instead of cola, so that the grenadine in the drink turns it bright red. Since a Roy Rogers uses dark brown cola, it might take on a bit of a reddish tone, but will mostly stay dark. A Shirley Temple also traditionally includes a squeeze of lemon, while a Roy Rogers does not.

Shirleys have historically been garnished with a slice of lemon and a Luxardo maraschino cherry, but it's pretty common for them to be topped with the bright red kind also found in ice cream sundaes. These candy-red cherries are also the traditional choice for a Roy Rogers. Now that all these differences have been laid out, the Roy Rogers should seem dead simple to you, but one of its ingredients could still use some explaining.

Cherry Or Not, Here It Comes

Roy Rogers with cherries before red wall
Roy Rogers with cherries before red wall - Rimma_bondarenko/Getty Images

You probably know what cola and maraschino cherries taste like, but unless you've spent a lot of time at a bar or restaurant, you might not know the ins and outs of grenadine. This red syrup is used in many other cocktails, such as the Tequila Sunrise. Despite the fact that a Roy Rogers is sometimes called a cherry cola, grenadine actually isn't cherry flavored — it's pomegranate-based. You might not even notice this if you're not paying attention, since grenadine is mostly fruity and a bit tangy, a flavor that could be mistaken for cherry. It turns out that the Roy Rogers' other name has more to do with its garnish.

If you're going to make a Roy Rogers at home, the grenadine is the ingredient that definitely should be used sparingly. Like a lot of mocktails that are considered kid-friendly, this drink can end up on the sweet side. Start with less grenadine than you think you'll need, and you can always add more until you're satisfied. To make the taste more adult, replace part of the cola and grenadine with seltzer. And for serving, try to find some cute, candy-striped straws — then you and your guests can enjoy the full soda fountain aesthetic.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.