Whether you're heading to a first date, meeting up with friends, or catching up with coworkers after a long work day, getting a drink at the local bar is always a great option. And while bars and restaurants want guests to safely enjoy their evening, it's an unfortunate reality that some bar patrons might make others feel a bit uncomfortable every now and then. Women, in particular, can be targets of overly aggressive men trying to hit on them. To help make sure nobody's in any immediate danger, many bars and restaurants are implementing an angel shot system as a part of their drink menu and safety procedures.

What is an angel shot? Angel shots meaning defined.

An angel shot is a unique code disguised as a drink order that a guest can order whenever they need assistance or feel uncomfortable in a bar or restaurant. The guest simply orders an “angel shot” to alert the bartender that they feel in danger, and the bartender can take appropriate actions to ensure that guests, particularly women, feel safe without catching the attention of other patrons.

Since there are different types of angel shot orders for different unsafe situations, the bar staff should be aware of possible requests and respond with the appropriate action until the bad situation is resolved. Some variations of angel shots ask the bar or restaurant staff member to call a taxi, escort the guest to a car ride from a family member, or even contact the police. It's also possible for bars and restaurants to customize their own type of angel shots. Instead of asking for an Angel shot with ice, you can change the names of the drink to help cover other scenarios and situations that make guests feel unsafe.

How to implement the angel shot for your bar or restaurant

Image of various bottles of alcohol in front of a glowing background at a bar.
An angel shot doesn't require any real alcohol. Photo by Sérgio Alves Santos / Unsplash

Angel shots should not be a major selling point for your bar on social media or your usual advertisement campaigns. If too many guests are aware that you serve angel shots, and know what it means, it can defeat the point. Discretion is key to avoid escalating a bad situation. When a guest orders an angel shot, you want each staff member to act as professionally as possible while also monitoring the situation with a sense of caution. Nobody wants to see an uncomfortable scenario develop into a bad situation after an angel shot order.

To avoid attracting more attention than needed, bartenders should pour a shot or drink consisting of water or tonic after a guest orders an angel shot. They can even pretend to place an order on their bar point-of-sale system so as not to raise suspicion. After doling out the angel shot, bartenders should alert the bar manager, call a taxi, or alert the authorities as appropriate.

Your employee handbook can be a good opportunity to prepare your bar and restaurant staff on the different angel shot precautions. By having the protocols all in one place, any bartender can discreetly reference the handbook and act accordingly without causing a larger commotion. Alongside those precautions and training, placing signage in a discreet yet accessible place is the easiest way to implement angel shot signs for your bar.

Where to hang an angel shot sign

Since angel shots require a certain amount of discretion, it can be difficult to let customers know you offer the drink order as a viable option if they ever feel unsafe. Thankfully there are other secure ways to inform a patron that they can order an angel shot without alarming others as well.

Most restaurants and bars hang signs to show that they offer the angel shot in the unfortunate case that a patron is stuck in an unsafe situation. The most common place to hang an angel shot sign is the women's restroom since it's a safe area away from the bar crowd itself. Remember, placing too many signs outside the women's bathrooms can make it difficult to ensure safety in your bar or restaurant.

Bathroom sign that can be hung at a bar or restaurant.
Angel shot signs make the most sense inside the women's restroom. Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Some bars post fliers or place discrete sections on their menus for guests to notice without drawing attention to the other person. Alternatively, customers can also use the universal "Ask for Angela'' phrase that would notify a bartender that they don't feel safe around a fellow guest.

What does "Ask for Angela" mean?

Ordering an angel shot has become a popular safety measure to protect women, especially with the rise of online dating. In the event that a woman's Tinder date does not match their online profile, increasing awareness of the angel shot can help make public meeting places safer for women. While the idea quickly went viral with influencers like Benjamin Smith creating video explanations of angel shots for his TikTok and Instagram, it didn't originate on those platforms. Angel shots originated as a part of the sexual assault prevention campaign known as "Ask for Angela."

The "Ask for Angela" phrase originated in England to promote changes in the culture of violence and prevent sexual harassment beyond the bar or restaurant space itself. Just like the angel shot signs, the bar or restaurant places signs about Angela to help make sure guests, especially women, feel safe and supported. If a guest then asks for Angela, the bartender or bar staff will follow the precise safety protocols until everything seems clear for that guest.

Different types of angel shots

There are typically several different variations of angel shots that a bar can implement to cover various scenarios. Since these names aren't entirely universal, you can alter the names slightly so a fellow patron can ask for safety without feeling like they're overusing the angel shot itself.

Bar or restaurant counter with a single lit candle.
There are several variations of the angel shot your bar staff should be familiar with. Photo by Taylor Vick / Unsplash

1. Angel shot neat or straight

When a patron orders an angel shot neat or straight, the guest needs an escort to their car by staff members. This is perhaps the safest and quickest option to ensure safety without calling too much attention to other customers.

2. Angel shot on ice or on the rocks

When a customer orders an angel shot on ice or on the rocks, they are asking to be escorted to a ride-share vehicle or taxi. Staff members should subsequently accompany the guest in a safe place until they see the customer enter the vehicle without any interruption. If the guest prefers, they can be accompanied by some of the female staff as an extra precaution.

3. Angel shot with lime or with a twist

When a patron asks for an angel shot on lime or a twist, they are asking staff members to contact the police immediately. While this is a last resort situation, it's important that staff members are aware of the necessary procedures for the police and emergency exits in case anyone needs to evacuate the bar right away.

Other ways to stay safe in bars

Some guests may need to be reminded of the angel shot orders and other safety tips as they enjoy their time at the bar. Bartenders and other staff can continually encourage their guests, beyond the list of reminders in the women's restrooms, to stay safe throughout the bar or restaurant. Of course, most bartenders already know the safety basics for serving drinks and keeping guests safe. For example, staff members should be on high alert if anyone leaves their drink unattended to ensure no one drugs their drink. Likewise, guests should also be completely willing to toss a drink if it tastes a tad bit weird.

If a person looks like they've had too much to drink and other customers are feeling unsafe, a bartender or staff member can follow the necessary procedures to escort them out of the bar or help them sober up until they are ready to head home.

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