Salty Dog

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This Salty Dog cocktail is the perfect drink for summertime or any time of the year! Made using grapefruit juice, gin, or vodka, this drink is refreshing, flavorful, and easy to make. Round it out with a salty rim to balance the flavor and enjoy!

Whether you entertain regularly or just love having an at-home happy hour, a good cocktail recipe comes in handy.

While there are many cocktail recipes out there, there’s just something about a classic drink that makes everything feel fancier. The salty dog is a cocktail that originated sometime in the 1920s but was made popular during Prohibition.

Essentially a grapefruit-flavored cocktail with a salty rim, it’s refreshing and has just enough of a kick from thyme simple syrup to make it interesting.

Grapefruit juice is mixed with either gin or vodka and served on the rocks. To give it a salty edge, a rim of salt is added to the glass for flavor and balance.

The best part is that you can easily make a salty dog at home. Serve it at your next party or enjoy it during a relaxing evening with friends!

Salty dog cocktail with a sprig of thyme.

How To Make A Salty Dog Cocktail

  1. Prepare the thyme simple syrup: Add the sugar, water, thyme, and grapefruit peels to a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove the thyme and grapefruit peels. Pour the cooled syrup into an airtight container or jar and store it in the fridge until ready for use.
  2. Add salt to the rim: Use a lemon or lime to wet the edge of a glass. Add salt to a small plate and coat the wet rim of the glass with salt.
  3. Add ice: Pour ice into the rock glass until full.
  4. Add cocktail ingredients: Pour in the grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and vodka. Stir to combine.
  5. Top with soda water: Add soda water to the top of the glass, give it another quick stir and serve!
Collage showing how to make a salty dog cocktail.

Recipe Tips

  1. If you don’t use all of the thyme simple syrup, you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
  2. If you plan to make a batch of salty dogs ahead of time, mix all of the liquid ingredients EXCEPT the soda water. When ready, pour the mixture into glasses then add the soda water last.
  3. The salt on the rim is optional, but it’s highly recommended to give this drink a salty edge that balances the flavor.
  4. For best results, use a rock glass or highball glass to serve this cocktail.


  • If you’re looking for a more pronounced grapefruit flavor, try using white grapefruit juice instead of pink grapefruit juice.
  • If you’re not a fan of grapefruit, this recipe can be made with other fruits like orange or pineapple.
  • Try using rosemary instead of thyme for an herbal flavor that’s slightly different.
  • For a more boozy cocktail, add one ounce more vodka to the drink.
  • If you don’t enjoy vodka, you can use gin in this recipe for a slightly different flavor.
Cocktail in a glass with a salt rim.

Storing and Making Ahead

Storage: You can mix the ingredients for this cocktail excluding the soda water for up to 48 hours. Any longer and the flavor of the fresh grapefruit juice will start to change. The simple syrup will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Freezer: Freezing is not recommended.

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Top down view of a salty dog cocktail with ice.

Salty Dog

5 from 1 vote
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Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Steep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 Serving


Thyme Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 5 fresh thyme sprig, fresh
  • 3 2-inch long peels of grapefruit

For the Drink

  • 1 ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • soda water, enough to fill the glass (about ½ cup)


To Make the Simple Syrup

  • Combine water, sugar, thyme, and grapefruit peels in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. 
    ½ cup water
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    5 fresh thyme sprig
    3 2-inch long peels of grapefruit
  • Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 5 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the thyme stems and grapefruit peels. 
  • Transfer the syrup to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To Make the Drink

  • Run a wedge of citrus fruit (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, etc.) around the rim of a rocks glass. Dip the rim into coarse salt.
  • Fill a rocks glass with ice. 
  • Add the grapefruit juice, vodka, and simple syrup. Stir gently. 
    1 ounce grapefruit juice
    1 ounce vodka
    ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Top with soda water. Serve immediately.
    soda water

Suggested Equipment


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 drink. Actual calories will vary.
*Doubling or tripling this recipe has not been tested. Therefore, we can not guarantee the outcome of adjusting the ingredients.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.


Serving: 1drink | Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
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