The History of the Salty Dog

Jump to

A classic cocktail that has become somewhat underappreciated in recent times, the Salty Dog is the perfect cocktail to enjoy while making the most of every last bit of summer sunshine. Incredibly easy to make and super satisfying on a hot day, the ice-cold Salty Dog is well overdue a revival. So, where did this fruity delight come from?

Who Invented the Salty Dog Cocktail?

The Salty Dog was originally created as a variation of the Greyhound cocktail. George Jessel added a salt rim to the popular combination of gin and grapefruit juice sometime in the 1950s, as a way to increase the palatability of the drink for those who were less than fond of the bitter grapefruit taste. The Salty Dog soon became more popular than the Greyhound, but it does mean that the histories of both drinks are intertwined, since the creator of the Greyhound had a hand in the fortunes of the Salty Dog.

First mentioned in the Savoy Cocktail book in the 1930s, the Greyhound is thought to have been created
by the author of the book series, Harry Craddock. Originally from London,
Craddock had moved to America to further his bartending career. He spent most
of the 1920s and 1930s in the States, returning home when prohibition hit and
working at the famous Savoy hotel.

It is thought that the Greyhound was created just before the move, since gin was a more popular spirit overseas than vodka, which is now the preferred spirit for most in this drink. It became a popular drink at the Savoy hotel, but really came into its own when Jessel adapted it to create the Salty Dog.

Simple Ingredients

The base spirit of the Salty Dog is now vodka, although some bartenders do like to pay homage to the original recipe and include gin. Since this is such a simple recipe, the
quality of the spirit is important – a good vodka should have very little taste
to it, instead allowing the natural bitter grapefruit tones to shine through.

Pardon the interruption

Did you know that you can become a member for free, taking your cocktail making skills up to level 11. You can save your My Bar ingredients, make tasting notes, have personalised Tried and Want to try lists and more.

The fact that grapefruit juice is one of the main ingredients means that historians can
discount the possibility of any earlier bartenders creating the same cocktail.
Grapefruit is a fairly new fruit, relatively speaking, only existing due to a
cross-contamination of sweet orange and pomelo fruit. Whether the grapefruit
was purposely genetically engineered or whether it was the result of a happy
accident, is unclear, but it was extremely popular in the 1930s.

Know the Difference

When ordering your cocktail at the bar, make sure you remember the difference between the two
drinks. If you love the bitterness of grapefruit, enjoy a tasty Greyhound, but
if you prefer your drinks smooth and fruity, the addition of salt on the rim
might make this drink more enjoyable for you, in which case you will want the
Salty Dog!

More to explore

The History of the Vesper Cocktail

This classic cocktail was not created by some superstar mixologist in a high-class bar, or adapted f...

The Story of the Sangria

No other drink gives us summer holiday vibes quite like the Sangria. Images of tropical paradises on...

The Travelling Cocktail Drinker: The Best Bars in Lucerne

It’s February, the month of love, so it is only right that The Travelling CocktailDrinker visits one...

Bartender's top tip

Choose the perfect glass. The shape, size and design of a glass adds to the experience of the curated cocktail. Invest in a few key pieces of glassware, with a design that matches your style.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get tips straight into your inbox.

Upgrade your mixology

Become a member for free taking your cocktail making skills up to level 11.

  • Save your bar forever
  • Access to our Cocktail Creator, allowing you to create your own wonderful concoctions.
  • Save cocktails to personalised 'Tried' and 'Want to try' lists
  • Create and record tasting notes on cocktails
  • Create lists of cocktails to share with friends and family
  • A pesonalised MyBar URL, allowing you to share everything you can make with friends
  • And much more ... (what to buy next, measurement choices, search personalisation...)
Register now

Have you tried our Wordpress Plugin?

Download our plugin and embed cocktail recipes directly onto your own site or blog.

Choose from our whole recipe database, or choose a specific cocktail made with a certain ingredient, and let us place a beautiful recipe on your own site.

Find out more