Whenever I travel, I love visiting gay bars in other cities. And one of my favorite bars is very close to New Orleans in Gulfport, Mississippi. Sipps is a fabulous LGBTQ+ venue with a relaxing atmosphere, great events and some of the best bartenders. My bartender for the month of April is Jacob Simmons.
Originally from Cleveland, Mississippi, Jacob has lived in Gulfport for nine years. His story of how he made it down to the Gulf Coast is fascinating. His best friend and his wife moved down here about a year before and knowing that there is nothing up in the Mississippi Delta, as far as opportunities and a life go, they showed up one day on his door. They convinced him to move with them, helped pack his stuff and moved down here with them. He remarks that it is the best decision he has ever made.
He has worked at Sipps for the past six years and his normal shifts are every Friday through Monday. Jacob is great behind the bar. He is personable and professional, making all his patrons feel at home. He has impressive cocktail making skills as well. His specialty cocktail is called Jacob’s Twisted Berries. The drink is a fresh take on a Sex on the Beach made with Raspberry Vodka, Razzmatazz, Peach Schnapps, grenadine, orange juice and cranberry juice. He jokes that it is a “sweet treat, just like me.” And he is totally right. He has an endearing personality and lots of charm. When he does go out, his drinks of choice are chilled shots of Deep Eddy Lemon vodka or Tito’s Vodka with cranberry and a lime.
Jacob has many strengths behind the bar; but he credits being able to connect with people as his top one. He explains, “Growing up with 3 brothers, I spent a lot of time listening to my surroundings. Many people come to a bar to vent and get things off their chest. I am a great person to do that to. I show no judgment. I may not give the best advice to situations, but sometimes all it takes is for someone to be there and listen.”
I have always said, “Why go to a therapist when a bartender is so less expensive?”
Jacob says what he loves about being a bartender is that it got him out of his shell living up in the Delta. “Without working at Sipps, I never would have met any of the wonderful people that I now call friends. I have learned so much about the LGBTQ+ community as well working at the bar, something I would never have learned growing up in backwoods Mississippi.”
I asked him what was the most unusual thing that has happened to him as a bartender. “Lord, working in a gay bar for the past 6 years, I have seen some stuff. The weirdest thing that has probably ever happened to me was I had a man come into the bar, have one drink, hand me $200, get down on one knee, pull out a ring and propose to me. I had never met the man before in my life. He was just visiting from Texas. I don’t know why he even had a ring with him. But I politely declined and handed him back his money. He said keep it and left the bar.”
COVID has touched everyone’s lives in this industry so much, I wanted to know how he was affected and what his thoughts are about the future. “COVID barely affected us in Mississippi. I believe I went about 3 months without working. But the second we opened up, we were back to normal. The only difference I have particularly seen is our clientele has changed from when we first opened up. We used to be predominantly a gay bar, but at this point, we get everyone from all walks of life in our bar. I see Sipps maintaining its longevity long after COVID ends (if it even does end) and feel like we will persist through any other major global issues that affect other places. People like to have a second home. A place where their friends can all get together, have a few cocktails, and feel safe and talk about their issues and their lives. We will always be here for them.”
So, if you feel like doing a road trip, go check out Sipps in Gulfport and visit Jacob. His Twisted Berries are delicious. Sipps is located at 2218 25th Avenue.