Brand Ambassador Alexis Brown Talks Hennessy’s Connection with Black History

Feb. 7, 2023

Hennessy has all but become synonymous with Black culture in the alcohol industry, with 60% of its sales coming from Black consumers.*




Hennessy is known for being featured prominently in Black art as well as for their partnership efforts to uplift Black entrepreneurs, artists, students, and changemakers. Funding Black-owned businesses through the Unfinished Business program, supporting high-achieving graduate students with the Hennessy Fellows program, and partnering with cultural innovators like rap pioneer Nas are just a few of the ways Hennessy continues to collaborate with the Black community.


And as the world’s best-selling Cognac with a 250-year-plus legacy, there is much more history to explore.


We met with Illinois Hennessy Brand Ambassador Alexis Brown in advance of this year’s Black History Month to hear her perspective on what it means for one of the world’s highest-selling, internationally recognized brands to take pride in having the Black community as an integral part of its history, legacy, and market share.

Hennessy’s Black History Month message this year is, “Black History. More than a month. It’s a movement.” What does that mean to you?

We are focusing on initiatives that will highlight, support, and uplift Black creators, entrepreneurs and other Black people making positive shifts in the Black community. That’s been our motto since I’ve been with the brand, so when a company does these types of things year-round, it’s no surprise seeing a great directive like this for Black History Month.

These initiatives are very close to me. I come from working as a bartender and I was able to use my brand partnerships to elevate my career, so I think it’s important for me to give proper advocacy to those coming after me to have the same visibility and opportunities. I’m happy when Hennessy promotes messaging like this to help push things forward with action.

What is the history behind the connection between the Black community and Hennessy as well as Cognac in general?

During World War II, Black soldiers were fighting for America during the war but still weren’t even being accepted when they’d return home. However, some of the French were accepting of them while in France and were willing to share the luxuries of Cognac with them. Thus an interesting history of luxury, Cognac, and Black Americans began.

Hennessy was one of the first major brands to advertise in Jet and Ebony Magazine showing Black people in luxury in their ads, exemplifying that the Black community was just as good as any other community as far as promoting luxury goods.

What parts of Black History Month do you think Hennessy champions the best?

To sustain 200-plus years, you have to be at the forefront of planning and be intentional. Everything is tailored and not just a turnkey program. We put intention behind things so that it can have an impact. We actually listen and pay attention and are part of the culture so that things aren’t just relevant during Black History Month but are relevant and impactful overall.

Why are you proud to be one of the faces of Hennessy?

When I think of great brands, legacy brands, Hennessy is totally that. I’ve worked with a lot of brands, but this is the first brand I’ve worked for. Being a face of something that has been around for more than 200 years and eight generations is awesome. Josephine Baker was one of the first Black female brand ambassadors for Hennessy and to be able to follow in her footsteps is really legendary.

I aspire to learn more firsthand and to even make or at least influence the blends eventually. Cognac is already a luxury, quality spirit so to be a part of all this is really something I’ve wanted and that I cherish.

What is your favorite way to enjoy Hennessy?

A neat pour of Hennessy VSOP is what I do, but I really love innovative cocktails and I love seeing what people come up with probably since I come from being a bartender. I have an appreciation for cocktails, so I love being surprised by people’s skills with creating a unique cocktail. I’ll try anything with Cognac in it, especially Hennessy VSOP!


Hennessy continues to be an industry leader because they’ve been intentional with their forward-thinking for more than 250 years. In the Americas, France, and around the world, Hennessy is proud to train and employ people from the Black community to keep sharing the knowledge and luxury of Cognac.


Order Hennessy this February and beyond to create memorable and impactful experiences for your customers. Connect with your sales rep to learn more, or where available, shop on BREAKTHRU NOW, our proprietary eCommerce platform.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

*Hennessy Internal Data



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