Much like many of John Prine’s songs, his birthday is a bittersweet occasion. His fans are taking today to celebrate and remember the legendary songwriter. At the same time, it’s a stark reminder of the bright light we lost last April. It hurts to know that he’s not around anymore, but we still have his songs to remember him by.
We, as fans, tend to see John Prine as a legendary figure. It’s easy to look at his ability to weave vivid tapestries from words and put him on a pedestal. However, we must remember that there are people feeling today’s ups and downs more acutely than the rest of us. Prine left behind a wife, children, and countless friends. Earlier today, Fiona Prine shared a heartfelt message about the late legend on Twitter.
“God I miss him,” she wrote. “Especially today when he would have been 75 years young.” She went on to share how John Prine would’ve celebrated today. He would have had yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Then, he would have washed it down with a Handsome Johnny.
Now, some of you are probably wondering what a Handsome Johnny is. It was John Prine’s signature drink and we’re going to teach you how to make one.
Celebrate John Prine’s Birthday with a Handsome Johnny
As Inside Hook noted, John Prine referenced the Handsome Johnny in “When I Get to Heaven,” from The Tree of Forgiveness. “…And then I’m gonna get a cocktail / Vodka and ginger ale.” However, the cocktail isn’t that simple. Prine talked about how to make the drink on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country station.
A proper Handsome Johnny starts with the right vodka. Don’t reach for the top-shelf stuff. John Prine used red-label Smirnoff. “If you get too good of vodka, it kills the bubbles,” he explained.
You can be a little less picky about the ginger ale. as long as it’s diet. The cheap vodka and diet soda complement each other. On top of that, Prine said, “You don’t want to get diabetes from drinking.”
Now that you have your ingredients, toss a handful of ice in a highball glass. Then, add a double shot of vodka. After that, just add ginger ale to taste, probably 4-6 oz. Don’t drink it just yet, though. There’s one more crucial ingredient.
If it’s wintertime, drop a lime wedge in the Handsome Johnny. For summertime drinks, add lemon. While discussing the drink, John Prine said not to squeeze the citrus wedge into the drink. Instead, “Just drop it in from about six inches above.”
As far as the cocktail’s name, Prine said, “I named it kind of after myself. I thought Handsome Johnny sounded like a Rob Roy or Manhattan.”