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.
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