The Salty Dog is a lot friendlier than it sounds. This classic cocktail is a modified Greyhound (gin or vodka with grapefruit juice) that is differentiated by the drink’s salted rim. But that salt gives this drink its own identity.
The Greyhound dates to at least 1930, when it appeared in Harry Craddock’s “Savoy Cocktail Book” as a simple cocktail combining gin, grapefruit and ice. Since then, the Greyhound has stayed largely the same, minus the greater public’s predilection for subbing vodka for gin over the years—a phenomenon that also impacted other historically gin-based classics like the Gimlet and Martini. Eventually, the Greyhound received a salted rim and a new moniker to describe its savory cousin.
The Salty Dog was likely created in the 1950s, perhaps by a gentleman named George Jessel, as a way to dial down the grapefruit’s tart and bitter notes. Salt isn’t only for seasoning food. It’s also a popular convention for cocktails; when applied to rims or dashed into drinks like the Salty Dog, Margarita and Paloma, it brings the constituent parts together.
Choose your ingredients wisely when making a Salty Dog. With only two liquid ingredients, the quality of your preferred spirit and the grapefruit juice is crucial. Use a good gin or vodka, as the base spirit will remain present with each sip. Fresh grapefruit juice yields a better drink full of rich, flavorful citrus, absent the cloying sweetness or artificial notes present in many packaged varieties.
1 1/2 ounces gin or vodka
3 ounces grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
Garnish: salt rim
Garnish: grapefruit slice
Wet the rim of a highball glass and dip it in coarse salt.
Fill the glass with ice, then add the gin (or vodka) and grapefruit juice and stir gently to combine.
Garnish with a grapefruit slice.