Pint and Make a Stormzy Cheese Sandwich with Caitlin Jenner: Meet the Union’s Bartender

Sam’s celebrity credits include “Lime and Direct” for AJ Tracey and “Burn, Baby, Burn” for Bernie Sanderssam heap

It didn’t take long for Sam to burst into the bar.

He was always the most host and gave me refreshments before finally sitting down, although his desire to keep the guest content never left during our conversation.

Seven years ago, Sam Shipp became head bartender at The Orator, a Cambridge Union bar. His passion for his work is palpable. “Running some pretty rough places and coming here is the Promised Land,” he told me. “It can be stressful at times, especially with a new business, but I love what I do. You are never bored.”

The bartender runs in the family. His grandparents ran Four St Georges for 30 years, his parents ran Panton Arms in the 90s, and his grandmother was even a librarian at the Commonwealth Library in the 60s.

“One moment you are a performer, the next you are a consultant”

Heap’s experience makes him fit for his current role. “Coming here, you need the full experience; one minute you’re a performer, the next you’re a bodyguard, the next minute you’re a consultant, and the next minute you’re sorting Robert De Niro’s pork tenderloin .”

In addition to his usual work at the bar, Sam greets union guests, helps them relax with a special cocktail (or Jeremy Corbyn’s mocktail) before they enter the conference hall, and serves them dinner—sometimes at They had a drink afterward to soothe their heated debate.

Some of the cocktails Sam has concocted for his celebrity guests are masterpieces of creative genius. He told me Bernie Sanders’ “Burn, Baby, Burn” cocktail, and AJ Tracey’s “Lime and Straight,” which were given to him in a box with dry ice. The signed boxes are left behind the bar, and Heap tells me they “keep as many souvenirs as possible.”

“Your Jeremy Corbyns and Theresa Mays” will serve mocktails, while other guests have odd requests. Jordan Peterson ate three steaks, Stormzy ate lots of grilled cheese sandwiches, and Bill Gates ate the Tracker bar and Diet Coke, Sam recalls. The late film director Oliver Stone ordered two Americanos with two espressos on the side; “Just to cheer him up a bit before he got into the chamber.”

Sam’s favourite speaker so far, Mark Hamill (he’s a big Star Wars fan) ‘only had an English breakfast with milk’ as he had to rush to shoot The Last Jedi.

Guests are treated to other union traditions, such as erasing the message of the last union spokesman and writing their message on the bar’s blackboard. Unsurprisingly, Katie Price wrote something “very inappropriate”. “She’s everything you’d expect,” recalls him making her a pink shampoo apple cocktail: “The Pricey.” Martin Lewis’ chalkboard message, on the other hand, deviates from his usual financial wisdom, advising instead: “If it’s brown, rinse it off, and if it’s yellow, soften it.”

“Kevin Rudd drinks the perfect pint”

Sam also held pint contests with his guests, a skill that produced mixed results. “Caitlyn Jenner was the worst”, with the Prince of Liechtenstein finishing last, while former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got the perfect pint. It “couldn’t be better”.

From weddings to union proms, the constant excitement and variety of events that Sam oversees is clearly something he thrives on. However, at the end of a long day, it must be hard to take a break from work?

“I’m a bit of a workaholic,” admits Sam. “It’s more of a way of life than a real job, you have to want to do it…I’ve been checking and it’s really hard for me to let go a little bit. If you want to be perfect, then you have to strive for that too. One point. We’re struggling with the current personnel crisis.” He joked that he would soon be working five days a week.

Sam spends almost every day in the pub next door to Cambridge Union, one of the oldest continuous debate societies in the world, and Sam encounters many interesting things. But he’s wary of a less pleasant experience: “It’s running a bar…you’re selling alcohol, and sometimes people drink too much before they come here.”

Does he have an opinion on the league itself? He acknowledged “we don’t have time for major union politics”, but he did note when union presidents changed hands. “I have a new boss every three months, and they’re usually between 19 and 24,” he says with a laugh. “My blood pressure has always been high, but I’ve never had a bad one. They’ve all been very, very good for me and good for society.”

The Union and its distinguished guests are undoubtedly the unique selling point of this bar. But Heap also sees the bar as a bridge between the city and the dress. “If you’re a tourist or the general public, a university is a very peculiar thing…the distance between town and robe is quite large. They can’t just walk into a university or a university bar – we’re the closest they can possibly get. place.”

Sam’s pride in his work gives me the rare satisfaction of meeting people who truly love their work. “Every day is a different story,” he says, as he returns to contemplating cocktails for the next star who will come to his bar.

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