Children are at their most virtuosic when it comes to evaluating anything they’re asked to consume. When they love something, their enthusiasm is wide-eyed and pure; when they hate it, their misery is a fascinating performance full of fake retching and piteous writhing. This is perhaps why smartly dressed 6-year-old Leo Kelly has quickly become an internet darling as The Shirley Temple King, amassing well over 150,000 followers on his Instagram account (@theshirleytempleking) dedicated to reviewing Shirley Temple mocktails at various establishments around Fairfield County, Connecticut, and beyond. His critiques span from sterling to damning, and he hands down each unapologetic assessment mere seconds after the drink crawls up the straw. Observe his discriminating tastes:
Among some of the other reviews Kelly has doled out at the eateries of Fairfield:
The Chelsea: “I give that a 7.8, because there’s a lot of ice.”
Malibu Taco: “Fancy glass, no cherries—which is bad—but I give it a 6.6.”
Athena Diner: “That’s too watery, only one cherry, not enough grenadine. I give it a 3.5.”
Starbucks Shirley Temple (off the secret menu): “Hooough! That tastes like strawberry mixed with mango. It’s disgusting... I give that a perfectly not good zero.”
Flipside Burgers & Bar: “Well, I don’t really like the cup, because it’s plastic, but also, they got one cherry, but they did a bit too much grenadine, so I’m going to give it a flat 7.”
Whatever your feelings about precocious children on the internet, what’s really impressive about this kid’s reviews is how consistent the internal scoring logic is. Leo Kelly just wants a minimum of three cherries, a generous but not unreasonable amount of grenadine, and some extra fizzy soda, easy on the ice. And would it kill you to use a real glass?
The buzz about The Shirley Temple King got us thinking about the last time we had one of these things. Is this something you all have kept drinking into adulthood? Or did it fall by the wayside somewhere in your preteen years, forgotten until Leo Kelly reminded you of its genius? In my neck of the woods growing up, it was referred to almost exclusively as a Kiddie Cocktail, but I like the classic convention of naming the drink after a real person. Might we find yet another name for the drink so that adults can order it comfortably at bars? Sure, we could say “Tonic with a splash of grenadine,” but I’d love a term that cues the liberal application of maraschino cherries, too.
You know what? To hell with it. This weekend, I’m ordering a Shirley Temple from my bartender, and I’m doing it proudly. Here’s hoping it’s above a 3.5.