The salty dog cocktail is a refreshing warm-weather drink that's bright and citrusy. It's a surprisingly delicious combination of gin or vodka, grapefruit juice, and salt. With just 3 ingredients, it's easy to make and it's ready in just 5 minutes!

If you love grapefruit, also try our grapefruit vinaigrette that we use on our baby kale salad with grapefruit, avocados, and almonds.

You'll be pleasantly surprised by the unlikely combination of ingredients in this salty dog cocktail. It's basically vodka or gin added to grapefruit juice and served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. There's no need to stir, shake, or mix. Just pour, garnish, and serve.

Grapefruit tends to be sour so if you prefer a sweeter cocktail, add a bit of simple syrup. It's an easy, bright, and refreshing drink that may become your summer go-to.

If you love this grapefruit cocktail, also try our delicious grapefruit margarita!

What is a salty dog cocktail?

A salty dog is a cocktail that combines gin or vodka with grapefruit juice and is traditionally served in a highball glass with a salted rim. This classic cocktail dates back to the 1950s when it was created by actor George Jessel, and is a salty riff on a greyhound.

two salty dog cocktails

Salty dog cocktail ingredients

With just three ingredients in this classic cocktail, quality is important so choose wisely! Here's what you'll need:

  • Salt – hence the name ‘salty dog', this simple ingredient is used for a salted rim and is a key component of this cocktail. We chose a coarse kosher salt for a bit of texture.
  • Gin or vodka – both work equally well so use what you prefer, or what you have on hand.
  • Grapefruit juice – fresh grapefruit juice is a real treat, but for simplicity we often use store-bought! Try ruby red grapefruit juice for a sweeter cocktail.
  • Grapefruit wedges and fresh thyme – we love using fresh thyme but rosemary and other herbs taste great, too!

You'll also need a highball or rocks glass.

How to make a salty dog cocktail

There's no need to stir or shake this classic cocktail. Simply rim your glass, add ice, and pour. Here's how to make this salty dog cocktail recipe in a few easy steps:

  1. Begin by rimming the glass. Wet the rim of the glass with grapefruit (or another citrus), then dip the rim into salt. Now fill your glass with ice.
  2. To make the cocktail, simply pour the gin or vodka into the glass, followed by the grapefruit juice. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge and some fresh herbs – we especially like using thyme. That's it!

Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.

How to make a pitcher of salty dog drink

With a simple 2-1 ratio, this drink is easy to make in a pitcher for a crowd. Simply scale up the ingredients and use cups instead of ounces.

To make it, start by filling your pitcher with ice. Then add 4 cups of grapefruit juice and 2 cups of gin or vodka. Serve it with salt-rimmed glasses, grapefruit slices, and sprigs of fresh thyme or other herbs. Keep in mind that pitcher sizes vary and this is for a standard 8-cup pitcher.

Looking down on two Salty Dog Cocktails

FAQS

What's the difference between a salty dog and a greyhound cocktail?

The only difference between a salty dog and a greyhound cocktail is the salted rim.

Can I make it ahead of time?

This cocktail is easy to make in the moment. That said, if you're entertaining and want to save time, mix the gin or vodka and grapefruit juice ahead of time and store it in the fridge. When ready to serve, pour it into salt-rimmed glasses and garnish it right in front of your guests. They'll love it!

What is better, gin or vodka?

There is no right or wrong answer here. Both work great so use whatever you prefer or what you have on hand.

What type of grapefruit juice works best?

We use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for a special treat and find that freshly squeeze is a bit sweeter and less bitter. . But store-bought works great and is what we use most of the time. When you're buying grapefruit juice, make sure that it's made with 100% grapefruit juice; many are fruit juice blends.

What kind of salt should I use?

Any coarser sea salt will work. We like the punch of salty flavor and a little crunch from coarse kosher sea salt.

When to serve a salty dog cocktail

The salty dog cocktail is a delicious refreshing drink you can serve year-round. Its rosy pink color is visually pretty making it perfect for gatherings and special occasions like birthday parties, bridal showers, housewarmings, or even book clubs.

It tastes great alongside appetizers like beet chip and goat cheese appetizer, hot spinach artichoke dip, or seared tuna with tapenade.

It also pairs perfectly for brunch with a sausage and egg breakfast bake or asparagus tart with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.

a hand holding a salty dog cocktail

Salty Dog Cocktail

The salty dog cocktail is a refreshing warm-weather drink that's bright and citrusy. It's a surprisingly delicious combination of gin or vodka, grapefruit juice, and salt. With just 3 ingredients, it's easy to make and it's ready in just 5 minutes!

If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!

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Ingredients

  • Salt, for the rim
  • 2 ounces gin or vodka, see notes
  • 4 ounces grapefruit juice
  • Grapefruit wedge and fresh thyme, to serve

Instructions 

  • Wet the rim of a glass by running a cut piece of grapefruit (or another citrus) along the rim then dip the wet rim into salt. Fill the glass with ice.
    Salt
    image for recipe instruction
  • Pour the gin or vodka into the glass then top with grapefruit juice. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge and some fresh herbs – we especially like using thyme.
    2 ounces gin or vodka, 4 ounces grapefruit juice, Grapefruit wedge and fresh thyme
    image for recipe instruction

Notes

Traditionally, a salty dog is served in a tall glass. The amounts listed in the recipe will fit, with ice, into a 10-ounce highball glass. But when we want less alcohol, we'll use a rocks glass, one ounce of alcohol, and two ounces of grapefruit juice; it's how you see the cocktail served in the pictures. 
Serving: 1 drink, Calories: 183kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 3mg, Potassium: 185mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 8IU, Vitamin C: 31mg, Calcium: 9mg, Iron: 0.5mg
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