Wrapping up a great trip to Alaska, I thought the salty dog cocktail was an appropriate post–not only because I love dogs, but because I got to visit the well-known Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer. Located on the breathtakingly beautiful Homer Spit, the Salty Dawg is a historically famous building and was one of the first cabins built in Homer, Alaska in 1897 when the town was established. This building has also served as the first post office, a railroad station, a grocery store, a coal mining office and a school-house. Later used as an office for Standard Oil Company, it was purchased privately in 1949, moved to its current location in the Spit, and opened as The Salty Dawg Saloon in the spring of 1957. The Saloon has been featured on Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, and is known for the thousands of dollar bills signed by visitors and tacked to the walls. The practice started many years ago when a visitor tacked a dollar to the wall, explaining that his friend would be by later and that he wanted to pay for his drink. Nearly every square inch of wall and ceiling space is now festooned with a greenback.
I did not have a salty dog at The Salty Dawg; my husband and I had some great local micro-brews. This place had a great vibe and was filled with locals and tourists sharing a drink and discussing their best catch of the day. The local we chatted with, a self-described town drunk, rides his motorcycle even in winter (studded tires) and fishes yearlong, especially for King Salmon. He stops at this well-known hangout daily.
Now, about the drink. The Salty Dog is a great summer cooler. It is a classic grapefruit-flavored cocktail believed to have been created around 1950 by the same mixologist who invented the well-known Bloody Mary. Originally made with gin, vodka is a popular substitute. As with many drinks, using fresh grapefruit and lemon juice is the difference between making a good drink and a great one. I prefer pink grapefruit juice to give this cocktail a brighter look. The salted rim–which converts the drink from being a Greyhound into a Salty Dog–helps contrast the slight bitterness of the citrus. Typically served “up,” this is an elegant drink for entertaining or for enjoying during a lazy evening in the summer. And it tastes great, even in the Lower 48.
Salty Dog Cocktail
- 2 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 ounces gin (or vodka)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- lemon rind, for garnish
- piece of lemon for glass rim
- Kosher salt
- Step 1 Pour a good amount of Kosher salt onto a small plate and set aside.
- Step 2 Use a piece of lemon to moisten the outer rim of a small martini glass. Dip the martini glass into the salt to lightly coat the outer rim with salt.
- Step 3 Add grapefruit juice, sugar, gin, lemon and a good amount of ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to mix.
- Step 4 Strain into the prepared martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel and serve.