Taylor Ballantyne

We asked a group of acclaimed New York City bartenders to create cocktails inspired by NBA teams like the Warriors and Lakers. 

By The SI Staff
December 04, 2018

A version of this story appears in the Dec. 3, 2018, issue of Sports Illustrated. For more great storytelling and in-depth analysis, subscribe to the magazine—and get up to 94% off the cover price. Click here for more.

To celebrate the (relatively) new basketball season, we asked a group of acclaimed New York City bartenders to create cocktails inspired by NBA teams. They came up with six unique recipes, which are listed below and correspond to the photograph above in order from left to right.

Legends of the Fall (Shawn Chen, RedFarm)

Inspired by the Toronto Raptors

• 2 oz Chamomile Tea Infused with New Riff Bourbon 
• .5 oz Dry Apple Cider 
• .25 oz Maple Syrup 

Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass, stir vigorously and strain into a rocks glass with a two inch ice cube. Garnish with a dehydrated orange. This drink is understated and smooth—somewhat like Toronto’s star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Naturally, it also features a touch of maple syrup, because...Canada! 

Green Chi (Shawn Chen, RedFarm)

Inspired by the Boston Celtics

• 1.5 oz Slane Irish Whiskey 
• .5 oz Crème Yvette 
• 2 oz Berry 5-Hour Energy
• 1 oz cold green tea 
• 1 oz Coca-Cola

Add all the ingredients into a shaking tin. Shake and pour into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with 3 raspberries on a skewer. With all the ingredients mixed together, this is a testament to cohesion over individuality, just like the Celtics. Beware: Danny Ainge might trade a key ingredient for future ingredients that may turn out to be tasty one day.

Royal Court(Jeff Bell, PDT)

Inspired by the Los Angeles Lakers

• 1 oz. BERTOUX Brandy
• .5 oz. lemon juice
• .25 oz. ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto
• .25 oz. simple syrup
• 2 Dashes Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters
• Top with 1 oz. Moët Impérial Champagne

Combine ingredients, except champagne, and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and top with 1 oz. of champagne. Garnish with a sprig of lavender resting on the rim. In honor of LeBron, this royale (a champagne-topped cocktail) is made with L.A.'s own Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters and Italicus liqueur, which was once the spirit of choice for Italian kings.

A Bitter Knick (Joseph Boroski, The 18th Room)

Inspired by the New York Knicks

• 11⁄2 oz Sombra Mezcal 
• 1 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice (preferably freshly squeezed with the pulp strained out)
• 1 oz Campari

Stir swiftly but gently with cubed ice for half a minute in a mixing glass. Strain over a large ice cube in a chilled old-fashioned glass and garnish with a piece of grapefruit peel, expressing the oils over the top of the cocktail and the rim of the glass. With a bright red hue, this is slightly smoky and bitter, kind of like every Knicks fan you know. Try pairing it with something sweeter, like—anything.

Golden State of Mind (Jeff Bell, PDT)

Inspired by the Golden State Warriors

• 1.5 oz. Bertoux Brandy
• .75 oz. lemon juice
• .5 oz. St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
• .5 oz. 1:1 honey syrup
• 1.5 oz. Fever-Tree ginger beer (top)

Combine ingredients, except ginger beer, and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a pear fan. The Bertoux California Brandy serves as the base for this drink, which is served colder than the relationship between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

Philly Process Punch (Nick Bennett, Porchlight)

Inspired by the Philadelphia 76ers

• 1 oz. Plantation Double Aged Rum
• .75 oz. Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
• .25 oz. St. George Raspberry Liqueur
• .5 oz. Lemon Sherbet
• 2 oz. Iced Tea (a Darjeeling second flush tea)

Have patience and trust the process. Build all the ingredients in a iSi Nitro Whip and charge it once with one Nitro Charger. Shake vigorously. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Then dispense the cocktail into a glass over ice. The nitrogen gas will give the cocktail a cascading effect, similar to a Guinness, and will slowly set into a complete, delicious cocktail.

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