Pippa Guy: Life after The Savoy

"I’d never carried a tray or worn heels before. I was used to Converse, denim shorts and baggy T-shirts.”

It’s fair to say that joining the team at The American Bar at The Savoy four years ago was a career-defining move for Pippa Guy, who in 2017 became the first female senior bartender there for more than 100 years. But Guy lets her drinks do the talking. 

“There was a lot of press
at the time and it was cool because it was highlighting something topical in gender equality in the workplace,” she says. “But it was also a little bit irritating. Some journalists didn’t listen to what I was saying, they just cared about the fact I was a woman. 

“I wasn’t there to push feminism, I was just there
to make drinks.” And being shortlisted for International Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail earlier this year backed her up. 

But Guy’s route to landing a job at The American Bar was unconventional. She first met bar manager Declan McGurk at Leeds Loves Cocktails when she was managing a venue called Oporto and, although Guy ended the night dancing on the bar, McGurk still told her to apply. 

So when Guy was given two-weeks’ notice to move to the capital having spent her university days in Leeds, it’s safe to say there was a culture shock. “I spent the first few weeks sofa surfing while I worked at The Savoy. 

“I remember my first day feeling really nervous and on show because I wasn’t just behind the bar. It was massively intimidating and I’m quite bad for swearing too so I had to monitor that quite a lot. Some of my friends have started having kids too, so I need to watch it.” 

Guy’s determination and work ethic have to be praised. Even when she arrived she told McGurk she would become a senior bartender. Two years after achieving this, Guy announced her decision to leave the bar for what she describes as a “temporary, early retirement”. 

“I will miss it for sure.
 I still think it’s the most magical bar in the world. Part of my decision was due to
 the thought of having to do another Christmas there – 
it’s so busy even on a normal Monday afternoon, let alone at that time of year.” 

So what does a 27-year- old living in London do in retirement? 

“I took up skateboarding a couple of months ago. In LA everyone skates and I thought ‘it can’t be that hard, I can do this’. So I bought myself
 a board and I’m actually all right. I’ve learned to turn but I need to learn to stop now. 

“It takes quite a bit of nerve to quit your job without having anything planned, but now it’s nice to have some personal goals rather than professional goals.” 

Guy will undoubtedly have plenty of opportunities coming her way. In fact, she was recently asked to act as 
a mentor for bartenders at Diageo’s World Class global finals. 

“I’d like to stay in London but if there’s nothing keeping me in the UK after Christmas I’ll explore other opportunities. I have an American passport because my mum is from the US, so I’d like to work over there at some point.

“I would consider brand work if it was for the right brand. I follow my heart on decisions so it’d have to be something I’m passionate about. But I don’t think I’m finished behind the bar.”