Cocktail Club

Recipe: Mix this Celtics-inspired cocktail at your next playoffs watch party

Hennessy's Sean Johnson shares how to make the drink.

Sean Johnson and "Fruit of the Gardens"
Create this drink from mixologist and Hennessy ambassador Sean Johnson. Photos courtesy of Hennessy

If you’re watching the NBA playoffs from home, think of mixing a drink that will get you in the spirit of the games. Sean Johnson, a mixologist and ambassador for Hennessy, created Fruit of the Gardens, the ultimate cocktail for Celtics fans. Since 2020, Hennessy has been the “official spirit of the NBA,” and Johnson uses the cognac as the base for a delicious drink to enjoy at your next watch party.

“This is a great cocktail that highlights the versatility of Hennessy V.S,” Johnson said. “What inspired me about that cocktail is how all the flavors come together just to make this really beautiful, one libation that a lot of people can enjoy.”


We talked to Johnson about the influence behind the Fruit of the Gardens, his background as a mixologist, and what it takes to make the perfect cocktail. Below, find our Q&A with Johnson, and a recipe for how to make the drink at home.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

What was the inspiration behind Fruit of the Gardens?

The inspiration was vast. I did some research on some of Boston’s favorite desserts and cocktails. Going from there, the inspiration[s] [were] the fruity notes of Hennessy V.S and the oak notes that tie in with the idea of a Boston cream pie, the chocolate part of it. Cherry flavors and grenadine came up a lot when I was doing research about Boston cocktails. Those two things, chocolate and cherry…with Hennessy V.S, hand in hand, really made the cocktail pop in my mind.

Can you walk us through how the cocktail is made?

It’s a pretty easy cocktail to make at home. There is an infusion in it, which makes it kind of mixology-heavy. You get some cocoa nibs from the baking aisle of a grocery store. You take about two tablespoons of cocoa nibs, put them in a bottle of rye or a half bottle of rye, [and] let that sit for 30 minutes. After that’s done, strain off the cocoa nib, and then you have one ounce of Hennessy V.S, one ounce of the cocoa nib-infused rye, one ounce of the sweet vermouth, a half ounce of maraschino liqueur, and two dashes of chocolate bitters. You just add that to a mixing glass, add ice, and stir until it’s well chilled. Then you strain it into a rocks glass with ice and add an orange twist.

Share with us about your background as a mixologist. How did you get started?

I was a bartender-mixologist for about 15 or 16 years. I got started as a bar back and just kind of fell in love with the craft of making drinks. I was living in Seattle at the time, and I just never looked back. Once I started to understand the art of making a cocktail, I really started to enjoy being a bartender. [I enjoyed] just how fun making a drink, in its complexity, [is] and really making an art of it. But also, finding that perfect cocktail for the guest — a huge part of being a bartender was making your guest happy. My love of it came from finding that perfect cocktail for my guest.

They’re cocktails that are specifically for the NBA programming… Those are going to be fruity and “sessionable,” very fun to drink during a game, very easy to drink. … I would say that The Playmaker is on the sweeter side. The Ankle Breaker is going to be a bit more citrusy. The Playmaker [features] Hennessy V.S, sprite, and cranberry juice. The Ankle Breaker [uses] lemon and lime juice, raspberry liqueur, and Hennessy V.S.O.P.

Fruit of the Gardens:


  • 1 oz. Hennessy V.S cognac
  • 1 oz. cocoa nib-infused rye
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes of chocolate bitters
  • Garnish: orange twist

Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir until ice cold. Strain into an iced rocks glass.