Salty Dog

National Dog Day

Your cocktail calendar entry for: August
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Today we’re mixing the Salty Dog because August 26 is National Dog Day.  Sure, there are other events like National Puppy Day, but Dog Day is clearly the all-encompassing celebration.  Besides, everybody likes dogs.

We mixed up the Martinez cocktail for World Cat Day and the dogs deserve their own drink as well.  We settled on the Salty Dog for the occasion as it’s simple to mix and perfect for the dog days of summer.

National Dog Day

You probably already know what a dog is but National Dog Day was first established in 2004 by a dog advocate named Colleen Paige.  Dogs, however, have been around a lot longer.  They were the first species of wild animal to be domesticated by hunter-gather humans around 15,000 years ago.  And the pairing seems to have stuck because they’re still around stealing socks and sleeping on the couch.

Some things are worth noting.  They’re descendants of now-extinct Pleistocene wolves and the modern wolf is the dog’s closest living relative.  The dog is believed to be the classic example of a domestic animal that traveled a commensal pathway into domestication.  That means one side of the pairing benefited (dogs scavenging human trash at encampments) while the other suffering no harm.

Genetic studies suggest domestication started over 25,000 years ago in either Europe, the Arctic or East Asia.  A recent literature review infers that the dog was first domesticated in Siberia some 23,000 years ago and dispersed into the Americas and westward across Eurasia.  We’re not sure if this dispersal was a matter of walking the dog getting out of hand for both parties.  But we are pretty sure the dogs picked up sticks and carried them along.

Over the years dogs have picked up some of the habits of their human companions as evidenced by the paintings of dogs playing poker.  Some dogs also like to drink beer, but this is not considered to be a good idea as they’re prone to alcohol poisoning.  So it’s up to you to have a drink for National Dog Day but you should still get a treat for the dog.

The Salty Dog

The Salty Dog is a simple cocktail in the family of highballs.  It’s made from gin (or vodka), grapefruit juice and salt.  It’s a refreshing, tall drink, perfectly suited for the dog days of summer.  And since it’s a close relative of the Greyhound (but obviously not breed specific) the Salty Dog fits the bill for National Dog Day.

David Wondrich, in The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, explains that the drink’s progenitor dates back to about 1916.  Soldiers stationed at Eagle Pass, Texas, who were fighting Pancho Villa drank lime juice, salt and carbonated water. Under the Salty Dog name.  By the 1930s they replaced the lime juice and carbonated water with grapefruit juice and for good measure added gin.  This later version caught on nationwide and gained a reputation as a hot weather refresher.

The first Salty Dog recipe we’re aware of showed up in Harry Craddock’s venerable The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930.  Gin, grapefruit juice and salt as we recommend, it was during the 1950s that many drinkers turned to vodka instead.  We don’t advise, but you do you.

There’s also a choice in terms of how salt is used.  The original recipes define salt as used direct in the drink.  Some modernized recipes instead proscribe a salted rim on the glass.  Either way is fine, but when possible try to get white rather than pink grapefruit juice as the latter is really a bit too sweet for this purpose.

Salty Dog

Salty Dog

The Salty Dog is a perfect refreshing drink for the dog days of summer. Simple as can be, it's just a combination of gin and grapefruit juice with a bit of salt to bring out the flavor. We present the original recipe, in which the salt resides in the drink, but if you're so inclined it's perfectly fine to salt the rim of the glass.
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  • oz Gin
  • 5 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 pinch salt


  • This is a drink to build in the glass. If you're going with a salted rim, wet the edge of the glass and dip in salt. Otherwise add pinch of salt to the glass.
  • Add gin and juice to the glass and stir thoroughly to dissolve salt.
  • Add ice to fill.
  • Drink.
  • Give the dog a treat.
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