The Greyhound is a simple drink — just grapefruit juice and vodka or gin. You can salt the rim and call it a Salty Dog, but for some that's getting a little too fussy. The Greyhound wasn't invented in Oakland, but some would argue it was perfected here at a funky little art gallery/cafe-turned-bar called Cafe Van Cleef.
Cafe Van Kleef, named after its owner, Peter Van Cleef, opened on 16th and Telegraph in 2004. Back then, that part of the city had not yet entered its renaissance. The beautiful Fox Theater just up the street had not yet been renovated and, as Mr. Van Kleef was once reported to say, "You could run naked down Telegraph Avenue and no one would see you."
While Peter Van Kleef sadly passed in 2015, his wildly eclectic bar lives on. Crammed to the ceiling with tchotchkes, taxidermied critters, art, and an eclectic mix of Oaklanders, it is truly worth a visit. And if you go, you must order a Greyhound.
The Greyhound is Cafe Van Kleef's most popular cocktail. They make dozens a night so it's a good thing that it comes together quickly — just fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and vodka poured over ice and garnished with a huge wedge of grapefruit (ideally the Ruby Red varietal).
Sometimes the grapefruit is so bitter it makes you wince; sometimes it's so sweet, you fall in love like a schoolgirl. You're never quite sure what you're going to get, which means if you order a Greyhound, you are one of those delightful human beings who enjoys the unexpected.
So despite the fact that it seems so simple, the Greyhound can be kind of surprising and complicated, giving you much more than you asked for, but at the same time not making it too easy for you to get it — just like Oakland.
No Rosemary Allowed
Some people like to garnish The Greyhound with a sprig of rosemary, and you may also be tempted to do so, as rosemary grows in huge, tangled hedgerows all over Oakland. You may even be tempted to add a little bit of rosemary simple syrup to cut some of the grapefruit's bitterness. But if you were to do this, you would be entirely missing the point. So please, no rosemary.
3 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, preferably Ruby Red
2 ounces vodka
Grapefruit wedge, for garnish
Fill a lowball glass with ice. Add the grapefruit juice and vodka and stir to combine. Garnish with the grapefruit wedge.
Recipes from the Road are recipes gathered from our travels near and far. When you're there, when you come home, a recipe is always the best souvenir. This month we're visiting Oakland; see our full Bite-Sized Guide here, including two more recipes.