A refreshing drink for the dog days of summer
Hot enough for you? In our part of the world, it seems like August already. So we’re breaking out the most cooling drinks we know.
Nothing says refreshing like a citrus-based drink. In the Salty Dog, that means tart, tingling grapefruit juice. Plus, the drink’s salted rim adds even more tongue tingle.
And that’s no shaggy dog story.
Recipe: The Salty Dog Cocktail
You can use either gin or vodka in this drink (see Notes). We like the flavor of gin, so that’s what we use.
This drink originally was made with 1 part gin (or vodka) to 1 part grapefruit juice. But you can add more grapefruit juice to taste. A ratio of 1 part gin to 1½ parts grapefruit juice is quite good, in our opinion. (See the Notes for a variant of this drink that uses even more grapefruit juice.)
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 2 ounces gin or vodka (see Notes)
- 2 to 3 ounces unsweetened white grapefruit juice
- coarse salt for garnishing the rim (we use kosher salt)
- Add the gin or vodka and grapefruit juice to a shaker half filled with ice. Shake until the contents are well chilled.
- Wet the rim of a rocks or highball glass. Pour salt onto a small plate, then dip the rim of the glass in the salt. Coat the rim lightly. Add ice to the glass (or not – some people prefer to drink this straight up). Strain the contents of the shaker into the glass, and serve.
- We recommend using unsweetened white grapefruit juice for this drink. The red/ruby stuff is too sweet (and it’s the wrong color).
- Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is better than canned, of course, but canned works fine for this drink.
- We try to buy grapefruit juice in small cans – mainly because we don’t use much, and never finish one of the large containers.
- Be aware that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can react negatively with some prescription medications (statins, for example). Grapefruit has a tendency to increase the potency of many drugs. So check the warning labels on your prescriptions, or check with your doctor if in doubt.
- Originally, this drink was made with gin. But vodka probably is the more popular choice today.
- If you’re making this drink with gin, any good name-brand “dry” gin will work.
- If you’re making it with vodka, we suggest using a good, but not ultra-premium, brand; something like Smirnoff works just fine.
- Want another drink that’s similar to the Salty Dog? Try the Greyhound Cocktail, which doesn’t have a salted rim, and always uses vodka. The ratio is generally 1:2 parts of vodka to grapefruit juice.
- The origins of the Salty Dog are lost to time. Some people say that actor George Jessel developed the drink. Maybe so, but we haven’t been able to find evidence of that.
- So what are the dog days of summer? The phrase refers to Sirius, the Dog Star. Why Dog Star? Because it’s the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Greater Dog). In fact, after our sun (which actually isn’t as bright, but seems so because it’s closer), Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.
- The heliacal (at sunrise) appearance of Sirius occurs shortly after summer solstice in the northern hemisphere – which coincides with the coming of hot summer days.
- Current tradition holds that the dog days of summer are the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11 at our latitude.
- But that won’t last forever, because the star’s position relative to Earth is shifting over time. In about 10,000 years, its heliacal rising will occur during northern hemisphere winter.
Going to the Dogs
“Arf,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Good tart flavor, and the salt really complements the grapefruit juice.”
“Yup, this cocktail is top dog,” I said.
“Your jokes aren’t getting any better,” said Mrs K R. “I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Yelp! No need to rub salt in my wounds.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Bloody Mary Cocktail
Cuba Libre Cocktail
Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail
Monkey Gland Cocktail
Volcano Bowl Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
My kind of cocktail, tart and salty. Prost!
Hi Gerlinde, tart and salty is good, isn't it? And so satisfying in hot weather. Thanks for the comment.
Sounds really great in hot summer days! Gorgeous shots as always, John.
Hi Angie, it really is extremely refreshing. And tasty. :-) Thanks for that kind comment.
I know this one, well I knew the name. Looks so wonderful and refreshing! grapefruit is underused in cocktails. But you name 2 drinks with those juice and both are dog related, coincidence? Side note: I went to a Hendrick's gin media event...keep an eye out in the next months for there new gin called Orbium...fantastic.
Hi Evelyne, there's also a drink called the Salty Chihuahua that replaces the gin with tequila. There are a lot of Tiki drinks that use grapefruit juice as a minor ingredient. Donn Beach (of Donn the Beachcomber fame) was particularly fond of grapefruit juice. Thanks for the comment.
I wish I could drink grapefruit juice because I'd be making a pitcher of these today. We're looking at high 90's again, but at least we're not over 100 like last week. The 4th is supposed to be the start of the monsoon, but right now, it's no where in site. So I guess I'll just have to make your Bee's Knees. If I haven't told you already, it has become my favorite! love the little hit of orange bitters. Have a wonderful 4th and stay cool.
Hi MJ, it's HOT here too. We're really in the dog days, alas. Too bad you can't drink grapefruit juice, but the Bee's Knees is a terrific drink! One of our favorites, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love your drink photos. This looks slick enough to skate on. I've been drinking Italian Greyhounds (I had a lot of pink grapefruit juice to get rid of--at least that was my excuse) but I'll have to try this.
Hi Mary, the Greyhound is rather a nice drink, although I think I like the Salty Dog a tad better. A tad. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is right up my alley because I love gin, as well as a pop of bitterness. I think I'll be drinking a lot of these this summer. ;)
Hi Carolyn, it's a refreshing drink! And the gin version is particularly lovely. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I can't see the comment box, but this looks gorgeous! I am onto vodka mixes now a days and I love this one.
Hi Minnie, weird that you can't see the comment box! But glad you figured out a way to comment. :-) Bet you'll like this -- it's such a refreshing drink. Thanks for the comment.
Great name and you make it sound so fun! Happy Independence Day and stay safe!
This cocktail sounds lovely. I'm making mine with vodka. :-) I'm enjoying your site -- the notes are so helpful and informative. I had never heard how grapefruit interacts with medications in a negative way. Good to know!
Gosh it's been years since I had this drink. I might have to bust out the vodka and enjoy this on the deck one evening. Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July! Beautiful photos John.
I never knew where the term dog days of summer comes from--it's really interesting! The salty dog is one of my very favorite cocktails and you've reminded me it's been too long since I had one. I think I'll make it happen this weekend!
Hi Dahn, hope you had a great 4th! And this is an interesting name, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Valentina, vodka is what this drink is usually made with today, and works quite well. You'll enjoy it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, this is a great deck drink! Thanks for that kind comment.
Hi Kelsie, how can it be a weekend without a Salty Dog? And one of your wonderful desserts, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds delicious! It sounds similar to a drink I had the other night at Louie's. I don't recall what the name of the drink was but it was so good. I'll have to try this, it sounds so simple to create. Hope you enjoyed the 4th.
You know what you are reading our mind as we need salt and fluids on this hot and steamy day so why not as a delicious salty dog. Seriously love how refreshing this looks and those ice cubes!!! LOVE.
Hi Vicki, this is a simple drink! And a good one. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bobbi, yup, salt and fluids really work in the summer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I used to drink this all the time! Way back when there was a grapefruit diet and of course since this has grapefruit in it I decided it was OK with the diet. No so sure about the diet but the drink is so worth it!
Hi Abbe, I had forgotten about that diet! And your logic is perfect -- of course this must be OK. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Well this sounds delicious on a hot night. Will have to wait a few months for that:)
Hi Sherry, yup, you still have the cool weather which we're just beginning to crave -- this has been an unusually warm summer. Thanks for the comment.
John, your photo looks very tempting. I'll take mine with gin, please, but maybe a little later in the day! Thanks for telling me about the "dog days," too.
Hi Jean, too early for us to have one of these, too! And we specialize in temptation around here. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I haven't had a Salty Dog in years. Used to be my main drink and Tanqueray is always my gin of choice. I keep thinking of your fantastic opening image of that fine looking Salty Dog. Now I'm going to have to shake one tonight.
Hi Ron, Tanqueray would be a particularly nice gin for this drink. You definitely need a Salty Dog tonight -- it's been WAY too long. :-) Thanks for the comment.
No salt for me. Otherwise, I would love this!
Hi Laura, easy enough to skip the salt. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Just to read the ingredients I feel like sipping on one...and I will try this with gin...like the idea of tart and salty...
Have a great weekend John!
I remember drinking vodka and grapefruit juice many years ago! (Without the salt tho.) A very refreshing way to enjoy grapefruit juice!
Hi Juliana, tart and is such a great flavor combo, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Deb, this is such a simple drink, and such a good one. Try it sometime with the salt! Thanks for the comment.
Yum! I'm a real salt fiend, so I bet I'd enjoy this. Would make a nice change from the usual margarita.
I love me a good greyhound and this looks amazing with the white grapefruit juice. Is it bad that I want one of these for breakfast?
Hi Frank, salt is good! :-) As is this drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, all that juice makes this healthy, right? :-) Actually this is a pretty good breakfast/brunch drink -- kind of like a Bloody Mary that way. Thanks for the comment.
Haven't had one of these in years but I do agree that they are very refreshing.
Hi Karen, we hadn't had one of these for ages, either, until we did this post. Now we're addicted! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Landon just bought a 300 paged book with EVERY SINGLE DRINK in it! I wonder if THIS ONE is in it! ;)
Hi GiGi, this one will be in the book. :-) Which book, BTW? Thanks for the comment.
I've never heard of what the dog days are, so thanks for that. I love grapefruit juice, but I'm one of those people you mentioned who isn't supposed to have it. There's really no substitute for it, is there?
Hi Jeff, there really is no substitute, alas. A little bit probably won't hurt --but talk to your doctor. Or just have a Pegu Club~ Which has a slight grapefruit flavor, and no grapefruit! :-) Thanks for the comment.
That looks like the perfect summer drink John. The weather here has been unusually warm lately. Very un-dutch (I live in the Netherlands) as we usually have a rather cold and wet summer, but at the moment it's been warm and hot for weeks now. Weird... But this would be the perfect drink to enjoy in the garden on a balmy evening!
Hi Simone, it's been HOT HOT HOT here! So we need plenty of these. :-) Thanks for the comment.
First, I really like that glass! Second, this looks like another terrific cocktail. I'm a gin lady myself!
Hi Amy, cool glass for a cool cocktail. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hmm salty!! I might try to make a mocktail out of it :) cool idea.
Hi Amira, hard to resist salty stuff, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds like a cocktail that would be great for me. Sounds really refreshing too!
Hi Dawn, it really is refreshing. What we need in this hot weather we've been experiencing! Thanks for the comment.
Love the look of this and anything with grapefruit juice is always a winner in my house!
You said that in 10,000 years Sirius's rising will northern winter- hard to believe humans will still be around then- but if so, I'm sure the Salty Dog cocktail will still be around!
Hi Caroline, this drink definitely is a winner! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Fran, yup, we don't know who'll be drinking those Salty Dogs, but the drink will still be around! :D Thanks for the comment.
Gin and grapefruit? Why have I never tried this? I love both so much. Defienlty giving this a go, I have a fresh grapefruit sitting in the fruit bowl just waiting to be used.
Hi Emma, you gotta try this -- wonderful combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, I’ve heard the name of this drink, but I’ve never tried one. Now that I see the ingredients I have no idea why I haven’t. It sounds so good, but I’ll probably take mine with vodka!
Hi Marcelle, vodka is how most people drink these, I'd guess. And it's a good drink -- worth a try! Thanks for the comment.
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