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Nunu's Salty Dog

Nunu's Salty Dog

  • -2 oz. vodka or gin
  • -4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • -Garnish with lime or lemon wedge
  • -Serve in a glass with a salted rim

Jimmy’s days behind the bar at Nunu’s are over, but you’ll likely find him a-stool beside the kitchen door on the smoking patio. The man’s not just the “operations engineer” at Nunu’s but a fixture for some 20-odd years. He denies the following “Jimmy story” with every bristle on his chinny-chin-chin.

According to the fisher folk who ballast the south end of Nunu’s shipshape bar, however, these are the facts.

One way-back-when afternoon after a stretch at sea, Tony’s tuna crew called for the old salts’ concoction, as it were, of Salty Dogs. “Salty Dogs all around, Jim!” rang through the Hillcrest hideaway. Stymied, Jimmy leaned over the bar with raised brows.… “Greyhounds with salt ’round the rim, Jim,” explained one of the briny Italians. A Greyhound’s a simple mix of vodka and grapefruit juice. Put salt on the rim, you’ve got yourself a Salty Dog.

Anyway, Jimmy poured the Greyhounds, proffered four card-stock coasters, and tallied a tab for the four well drinks. “Hey, Jimmy! Where’s the salt? We tol’ ya, Greyhound with salt on the rim.”

The barman tore up the tab and rapped the bar with his knuckles a couple of times — on the house.

About ten minutes later, crewman numero due bellied up to the bar and ordered another round of Dogs. Jimmy iced up four rocks glasses, tipped the Russian generic over each glass in turn, splashed the bitter fruit juice over the row, and slid the drinks out. “Order up.” When the crewman returned to collect the drinks, he said, “Jimmy, c’mo-o-o-o-on, you gotta salt these drinks.” Another tab was torn, and Jimmy rapped the bar once and waved the man away.

This went on, as Tony’s story goes, until Jimmy salted four rocks glasses — so he wouldn’t forget — and lined them up on the bar. When the crew called for another round — “Same again, Jim!” — he iced up the salted glasses, mixed Greyhounds into them, and rang up a tab on the antique register. “Order up.”

When Tony came to collect the cocktails, he couldn’t help himself. “Jimmy, we said ‘same again.’ What’s with the salt? We don’t want salt now.” The boat captain and barman stared each other down until the tab was fitfully torn in two.

Tony and Jimmy, though they’d deny it, are the best of friends today. I relish their company as I sip the bitter chemistry of Salty Dogs on the bar’s patio and listen to the inevitable embellishment of this among many fisherman’s tales, Tony belly laughing, Jimmy rolling his eyes behind a blue curl of filterless cigarette smoke.

“Hey, Jim,” I start some booze-brave days, “why didn’t you just salt four glasses and pour the drinks into them instead of givin’ ’em away?”

“I would have if the story were true, Bob-bay,” Jimmy says in a blue-blood singsong gleaned from too many William Powell movies, “but Tony has me confused with somebody stu-paid.”

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