The Salty Dog is a classic cocktail made with gin, grapefruit juice, and a salted rim. This refreshing cocktail is perfect for a hot summer afternoon when you’re looking for something quick and easy.
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The history of the cocktail
The Salty Dog is a variation on the Greyhound cocktail, which is a mix of gin and grapefruit juice.
The Greyhound was likely invented by Harry Craddock, as if first appeared in his 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book. Sometime during the 1950s, a pinch of salt was added and the Salty Dog was born.
Just about every source on the internet claims that a washed up actor named George Jessel invented the Salty Dog – or that he liked to claim he did. The truth is a lot like the cocktail: quite murky.
Gin or vodka?
Whoever first created the drink, it went on to far surpass the Greyhound in popularity.
Vodka became the most popular spirit in America by the 1970s, and it quickly replaced the gin in Greyhounds and Salty Dogs served in most bars. Today, it’s common to use either spirit, and both make for tasty cocktails.
Why salt the rim?
Salt is a flavor enhancer. It brightens the sweet and sour flavors in a classic Margarita and it also tones down the inherent bitterness of fresh grapefruit juice by enhancing its sweetness.
A little pinch of salt can greatly improve a lot of cocktails, especially sour-style ones like margaritas, daiquiris, or gimlets.
The small addition of a salted rim to the Greyhound makes a big difference with its flavor, which is why many prefer the Salty Dog to its predecessor.
What salt to use?
Kosher salt or flake sea salt (like the wonderful Maldon) is always a good choice, but I went with an interesting Hibiscus Pyramid Salt from Wild Hibiscus Co in this recipe.
You could also use a Himalayan pink salt, a smoked sea salt, or black lava salt.
Fresh juice is always best
It goes without saying, but using freshly squeezed juice will always give you the best tasting cocktails. I recommend using ruby red grapefruits because they’re the sweetest.
If you decide to go with bottled grapefruit juice, buy the highest quality unsweetened juice you can find. I buy organic grapefruit juice from Whole Foods all the time and I’ve made a pretty decent cocktail or two with it before. Be sure to give the bottle a solid shake before pouring.
No garnish is required for the easy-going Salty Dog, but I love to garnish with a juicy grapefruit wheel and fresh herbs, if I have them.
Rosemary, basil, and mint are all great in a Greyhound or a Salty Dog. If you like an herbal cocktail with grapefruit, you might enjoy my Rosemary Greyhound, another very easy drink from my first book, Essential 3-Ingredient Cocktails.
- 2 oz gin
- 4-6 oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
- Rim a double rocks glass with salt and fill it with ice.
- Pour the gin and grapefruit juice into the glass and stir to combine.
- Garnish with a grapefruit wheel and fresh herbs, if desired.