Salty Dog Cocktail Drink

Salty Dog

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
A shot of Andrea Ottaiano looking to the camera and offering a cocktail glass.
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano
4.25 from 4 votes
Eager for a drink? Dive into the Salty Dog recipe; with its simple ingredients, you can make a truly unparalleled cocktail.

Salty Dog Recipe

Check out this iconic Salty Dog recipe! With gin, zesty grapefruit juice, and that crisp salted edge, it's the ultimate refreshment for warm afternoons.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

170 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3 oz grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
  • Salt, for rimming the glass
  • Ice cubes
  • Grapefruit slice or twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Salt Dish
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon
  • Citrus Squeezer

Instructions

  • Rim Glass with Salt: Moisten the rim of your highball glass with a grapefruit wedge and then dip it into a dish of salt.
  • Prep Glass: Fill your highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Gin: Pour 2 oz Gin over the ice.
  • Add Grapefruit Juice: Pour 3 oz grapefruit juice into the glass.
  • Stir: Mix the ingredients gently using a stirrer or bar spoon.
  • Garnish: Place a grapefruit slice or twist into the glass for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Gin: I've sometimes replaced gin with vodka, which offers a slightly different taste profile but works wonderfully with grapefruit juice. If you're looking for a bit of a twist, tequila also pairs well with grapefruit for a "Salty Chihuahua."
  • Grapefruit Juice: If you're out of grapefruit, fresh lemon juice with a splash of orange can be an interesting substitute, although it alters the classic Salty Dog taste.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, use 16 oz of gin and 24 oz of grapefruit juice.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the gin and grapefruit juice. Stir well.
  • Serve: Rim individual highball glasses with salt, fill them with ice, pour the mixture in, garnish with a grapefruit slice or twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Gin Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic gin substitute. These typically capture some of the botanical essences without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: With the non-alcoholic gin substitute in place, follow the original steps and savor a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

The Salty Dog is inherently vegan, as it contains no animal-derived ingredients. However, always double-check the labels, especially if you use substitutes or different brands, to ensure all components are vegan-friendly.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
170
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sodium
 
2
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
9
g
3
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
9
g
10
%
Potassium
 
139
mg
4
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Vitamin A
 
6
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
23
mg
28
%
Calcium
 
7
mg
1
%
Iron
 
0.4
mg
2
%

 

Salty Dog Cocktail Drink

Salty Dog Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
4.25 from 4 votes
Jump to Video
Check out this iconic Salty Dog recipe! With gin, zesty grapefruit juice, and that crisp salted edge, it's the ultimate refreshment for warm afternoons.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 170

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3 oz grapefruit juice - freshly squeezed
  • Salt - for rimming the glass
  • Ice cubes
  • Grapefruit slice or twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Salt Dish
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon
  • Citrus Squeezer

Instructions

  • Rim Glass with Salt: Moisten the rim of your highball glass with a grapefruit wedge and then dip it into a dish of salt.
  • Prep Glass: Fill your highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Gin: Pour 2 oz Gin over the ice.
  • Add Grapefruit Juice: Pour 3 oz grapefruit juice into the glass.
  • Stir: Mix the ingredients gently using a stirrer or bar spoon.
  • Garnish: Place a grapefruit slice or twist into the glass for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Gin: I've sometimes replaced gin with vodka, which offers a slightly different taste profile but works wonderfully with grapefruit juice. If you're looking for a bit of a twist, tequila also pairs well with grapefruit for a "Salty Chihuahua."
  • Grapefruit Juice: If you're out of grapefruit, fresh lemon juice with a splash of orange can be an interesting substitute, although it alters the classic Salty Dog taste.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, use 16 oz of gin and 24 oz of grapefruit juice.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the gin and grapefruit juice. Stir well.
  • Serve: Rim individual highball glasses with salt, fill them with ice, pour the mixture in, garnish with a grapefruit slice or twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Gin Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic gin substitute. These typically capture some of the botanical essences without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: With the non-alcoholic gin substitute in place, follow the original steps and savor a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

The Salty Dog is inherently vegan, as it contains no animal-derived ingredients. However, always double-check the labels, especially if you use substitutes or different brands, to ensure all components are vegan-friendly.

What is a Salty Dog?

Salty Dog is a cocktail featuring gin and grapefruit juice, distinguished by its salt-rimmed glass. Historians trace its origins back to the vibrant days of American cocktail culture, where it made a name for itself due to its sharp and refreshing taste. The drink’s unique name, “Salty Dog”, directly relates to its signature salted rim. Even if you’re new to cocktails, recognizing a Salty Dog is easy, given its distinct appearance and flavor profile. This classic Salty Dog recipe, with simple ingredients, offers a sophisticated taste experience.

A side shot of a Salty Dog cocktail in a highball glass on a beige table surrounded by a grapefruit wedge, an orange cloth, a shaker and a jigger, in front of a white wall.

What is a Salty Dog made of – The ingredients

Before making a Salty Dog, ensure these ingredients are ready:

  • Gin: The primary spirit in the cocktail, adding depth and botanical flavors.
  • Grapefruit Juice: Provides a tangy and citrusy punch, balancing out the gin’s strong notes.
  • Salt: Rims the glass, offering a contrasting salty kick to the tartness of the grapefruit and enhancing the overall flavor experience.

Gin, grapefruit and salt laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a Salty Dog?

These straightforward steps are your key to making a great Salty Dog:

  1. Start by moistening the rim of a highball glass with a grapefruit wedge.Rim of the highball glass moisted with grapefruit wedge
  2. Dip the moistened rim into a dish of salt to coat it evenly.Rim of the glass dipped into salt
  3. Fill the highball glass with ice cubes to prepare for the cocktail.Highball glass filled with ice cubes
  4. Pour gin over the ice, ensuring it forms the drink’s base.Gin poured into highball glass with jigger
  5. Add freshly squeezed grapefruit juice into the glass, mixing it with the gin.Grapefruit juice added to the highball glass
  6. Stir the ingredients gently using a stirrer or bar spoon to integrate the flavors.Mixture stirred in highball glass with bar spoon
  7. Garnish the drink with a grapefruit slice or twist, if desired.Grapefruit slice added to the highball glass as garnish Completed Salty Dog cocktail in highball glass

Salty Dog with Vodka instead of Gin

Don’t be afraid of experimenting with vodka. Opting for vodka infuses the drink with a smooth, clean taste, letting the grapefruit shine even more. Among the countless vodka brands, some standout choices include Tito’s for its crisp finish, Grey Goose for a touch of luxury, and Absolut for reliable quality. But if you want to elevate your Salty Dog with a vodka twist, consider trying Stolichnaya. Its balanced character and slight hint of citrus notes mingle perfectly with the tartness of the grapefruit, creating a refined yet straightforward take on the classic.

Best Gin for a Salty Dog

If you’re sticking with gin for your Salty Dog, the brand choice can make all the difference. The gin’s nuances come to the forefront with the drink’s straightforward ingredients. While Tanqueray brings a robust juniper punch and Bombay Sapphire offers a delicate dance of botanicals, consider reaching for Hendrick’s for a Salty Dog that genuinely sings. This Scottish gin, known for its cucumber and rose infusions, adds a refreshing twist. It pairs brilliantly with the grapefruit, enhancing the drink’s crispness. Next time you whip up a Salty Dog, give Hendrick’s a shot. It’s a match that might just elevate your cocktail game.

A Salty Dog cocktail, shot from above, in a highball glass on a beige table surrounded by a grapefruit wedge, an orange cloth, and a jigger.

Variations

Fascinated with exploring diverse styles? We have a collection of top picks for you:

  • Greyhound: This simplifies the original by removing the salted rim, focusing purely on the blend of gin and grapefruit. The absence of salt allows the gin’s botanicals and the grapefruit’s tartness to shine, offering a cleaner, more direct taste experience. Personally, I appreciate the uncomplicated nature of this; it highlights the crispness and refreshing qualities, making it an excellent choice for a relaxed evening.
  • Salty Sea Dog: This introduces a unique twist with a touch of seaweed-infused gin or seaweed garnish, adding a distinct salty and marine character. This seaweed element brings a surprising depth and complexity, creating a connection to the ocean’s essence. I find this particularly intriguing; the subtle seaweed flavor provides an unexpected yet harmonious balance with the traditional ingredients, making it a memorable and adventurous choice.
  • Salty Chihuahua: This replaces gin with tequila, adding a Mexican flair. The tequila’s earthy notes beautifully complement the grapefruit’s tartness, creating a vibrant and lively combination. I’m drawn to the robust character of tequila in this; it adds a spirited twist and an extra layer of flavor that makes it stand out, perfect for when I’m in the mood for something bold and zesty.

A side shot of a Salty Dog cocktail in a highball glass on a beige table surrounded by a grapefruit wedge, an orange cloth, a shaker and a jigger, in front of a white wall.

History and Origin

The Salty Dog has its roots in the early days of American cocktail culture. The drink is essentially a mixture of the Greyhound, a combination of grapefruit juice and gin or vodka. The Greyhound’s origins date back to the 1930s, as documented in Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book”.

As the cocktail scene evolved, bartenders and patrons experimented with existing recipes. The Salty Dog emerged from this spirit of innovation by introducing a salted rim to the classic Greyhound, adding a new flavor dimension to the drink. The salt contrasted the sourness of the grapefruit juice and amplified the gin’s botanical notes. This clever twist on a classic gained popularity and secured its place in cocktail menus.

The name “Salty Dog” aptly reflects the drink’s primary distinction: the salted rim. While the exact individual or venue responsible for this ingenious addition remains a topic of debate, there’s no denying that this simple modification transformed a classic cocktail into a drink with a distinct identity. Over time, the drink has enjoyed variations and adaptations, but the essence of salt, gin (or vodka), and grapefruit juice remains unchanged.

A Salty Dog cocktail, shot from above, in a highball glass on a white marmol table surrounded by a grapefruit wedge, a plate with salt, and a Gin bottle.

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FAQ

How many calories are typically in a Salty Dog?
Typically it contains around 150 to 180 calories, depending mainly on the gin and the quantity of grapefruit juice used.
How strong is a Salty Dog in terms of ABV and proof?
The strength depends on the gin used, but it typically has an ABV of about 20-25%. So, if the gin is 40% ABV (or 80 proof), the drink's overall strength is diluted by the grapefruit juice.
What type of alcohol does the Salty Dog use?
Traditionally, the cocktail uses gin, but some people also use vodka.
In which glass is a Salty Dog typically served?
It's usually served in a highball glass.
What does a Salty Dog taste like?
The drink offers a refreshing balance of tart grapefruit, botanical gin, and a contrasting salty kick from the rim.
What's the typical ratio of ingredients in a Salty Dog?
Most recipes suggest a 1:1½ ratio of gin to grapefruit juice, but this can be adjusted based on personal preference.
How is the Salty Dog served in terms of ice and presentation?
It's typically served over ice, often called "on the rocks".
Can I use tequila for a Salty Dog?
Using tequila will add a unique twist, giving the drink a more robust and earthy flavor profile.

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