A Grapefruit Vodka Cocktail to Shake Up This Valentine’s Day (Salty Dog Recipe)


For me, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to stay in, get cozy, and romance your partner (or your best friend, or yourself) with a homemade dinner that features all their favorite things. Often, there’s a nostalgic component—when Adam and I first started dating, I tried seducing him with so many chocolate soufflé cakes (his favorite) that he might have actually gained a few pounds.

Unfortunately for Adam, I now reserve the chocolate soufflé for our annual Valentine’s date night at home, and this year I’m also making a couple of his other old-school favorites: hot honey glazed salmon, and this grapefruit vodka cocktail, also known as a greyhound or salty dog (we’ll get to the distinction in a moment.) Scroll on for this simple, classic grapefruit vodka cocktail that’s always a crowd-pleaser, along with a few tips for making it really special.

What do you call a grapefruit vodka cocktail?

Let’s break it down:

My version is closest to the Salty Dog thanks to its yummy salted rim, but mixes up the classic ratios just a bit, adding a squeeze of agave syrup and some grapefruit-flavored sparkling water to top it off. I love the fizziness this provides, and it allows me to modify the drink and make a low-alcohol cocktail if I want to keep things light, without sacrificing the delicious grapefruit flavor.

How to make a Salty Dog cocktail in 3 easy steps

I’m not a fan of complicated at-home cocktails—I love a short ingredients list and simple shake-it-up technique, and this cocktail recipe has both.

  1. First, you’re going to salt the rims of your glasses. I like the look of a rim that’s salted on just half the glass, plus it allows the drinker to decide if they take a sip with or without salt. To get this effect, all you have to do is take a lime or grapefruit wheel and run it around the edge of half the glass, then dip that half into a small bowl filled with kosher salt.
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, you’re going to shake up 2 parts grapefruit juice to 1 part vodka, with a squeeze of agave if desired.
  3. Strain and pour over your ice-filled glasses, then top off with grapefruit sparkling water to taste. My hands-down favorite is Rambler—everyone in our house is obsessed. If you want, garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Tips for the best grapefruit vodka cocktail

When a recipe is this simple, it’s all about the quality of your ingredients, so I highly recommend using freshly-squeezed pink grapefruit or ruby red grapefruit juice here, instead of the bottled kind. It makes a major difference, and it’s one simple step that makes this recipe feel special, despite its simplicity.

I personally love the addition of a little agave syrup in this since it balances the tart flavor of the fresh grapefruit juice. Feel free to swap in simple syrup, or omit altogether if you like your drink less sweet.

How to make it a grapefruit mocktail

Since grapefruit has such a delicious, juicy flavor on its own, it makes an amazing base for a non-boring cocktail. If you’d like to make this drink without alcohol, just swap in a little lime juice in place of the vodka or gin, and add some extra grapefruit sparkling water. Make it feel a little more special by throwing in a rosemary sprig or mint for garnish. Delish (and beautiful!)


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