I often say that writing is what i do, but drinking is who I am.

Just kidding. I never say that (aloud) and I hope that's not something my daughter will be repeating to a therapist some day. Alas, I do love wine and spirits. And to be all the way honest, considering my line of work? Said daughter not withstanding, a glass of Shiraz or a gin and tonic is often the only thing that keeps me from losing it.

Like many young professionals, there was once a time where I could tell you what I liked to drink, but not much about those libations. I knew that vodka mixed well with pretty much anything, including the 2 for $3 bodega juice that my crew fancied during our earliest, brokest NYC years ("peach" orchard punch, to be exact) and that rum is naturally sweet and that brown liquor is, for some unknown reason, a rite of passage as a "real" drinker. But I didn't know much about countries of origin, brand histories, the "proper" way to enjoy spirits, etc, until I started reading men's magazines (not the boobs-and-rims monthlies, the good ones), where I began to get a bit of a spirited education. In fact, one of the first stories I did for the relaunched EBONY.com in 2012 was a look at the history between Black drinkers and Hennessy—one that dates back to the labor movement and our presence in France during the second World War.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Cognac, France to visit the houses of some of the world's finest spirits: Martell, D'Ussé, Louis Royer, Courvoisier, Remy Martin and, of course, Hennessy (EBONY and JET's first spirit advertiser, btw). I won't tell you how the scent of the oak barrels might have given me a spiritual experience, but only that the trip made it even more clear to me how fresh it would be to provide EBONY.com's readers with the opportunity to learn more about the libations we love and to discover new ones.

As we prepare to enter the second year of the site, I'm excited to introduce SIP+SAVOR, our new weekly column dedicated to all things wine and spirits. Here, we'll explore trends and history, provide tips and recipes and celebrate the love of drinking. And no need to be intimidated! Your tour guide through this journey appreciates a nice Gewürztraminer and Nicki Minaj's MYX Moscato alike (and will still drink up your vodka and peach orchard punch on occasion).

Welcome to SIP+SAVOR! Let's raise a glass to this new journey with my one of favorite Cognac cocktails: the Hennessy Sidecar. While some Cognac purists will tell you that the only way to enjoy the spirit is neat (meaning with no ice, no mixer), the best way to enjoy it is to enjoy it. I have only able to sip Cognac straight for about two years—and I've been drinking Cognac for over a decade. We'll talk more about this next week. For now, pour this one up:
Hennessy Sidecar
  • 1 oz. Hennessy Cognac VS (If you're drinking VSOP, rock on. But VS is better suited for cocktails)
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier (Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored Cognac liqueur. You can use triple sec, which is simply an orange flavored liqueur…but the quality and taste of this drink will be markedly different.)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass (or a red cup if you're at home watching Scandal on Hulu by yourself, because YOLO).

Jamilah Lemieux is the News and Lifestyle Editor for EBONY.com. Tweet her about booze, she'll be glad to talk about something lighthearted for a change: @jamilahlemieux