The Angel Shot: Unveiling the Secret Code to Bar Safety

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Gerald Ainomugisha
March 14, 2023
A bartender is preparing a drink for a bar patron. Figurative representation of an angel shot.

Going to a bar or club can be a fun and exciting way to unwind and socialize with friends. Unfortunately, bars and clubs can also be dangerous environments where fights, sexual harassment, and assault are all too common. 

To combat this, the concept of "angel shots" has been introduced as a discreet way for bar patrons to alert bartenders that they need help. In this article, we will explore what angel shots are, how they work, who should order them, and the importance of bar safety.

What are angel shots?

An angel shot is not a drink, but a discreet way for bar patrons to signal to the bartender that they need help. This could be because they are on a date that has gone south, or another patron is making them uncomfortable, and they need help exiting that situation. 

The concept of an ‘angel shot' was first introduced in 2017 by a bar in Florida, but it has since spread to other establishments across the United States and beyond. 

The idea is simple: a customer orders an angel shot using a specific code, and the bartender knows how to best help the customer.

While the type of help the patron requires varies depending on the angel shot ordered, the concept is the same. Your job as a bartender is to provide the requested assistance in the most discreet way possible to avoid escalating the situation. 

Types of Angel Shots

There are three types of angel shots: neat, with ice, and with lime. Each type is a code with a hidden message for the bartender. Let’s examine what each of them means. 

An Angel Shot Neat or Straight Up

A visualization of a neat angel shot.

Ordering a neat angel shot means the patron wants someone to escort them to their car.

This could be for multiple reasons, which include: 

  1. The patron is with a person or a group of people they don’t trust
  2. The parking lot is dark 
  3. It is very late, and there aren't a lot of people outside
  4. The bar is in an unsafe neighborhood 
  5. The patron is afraid they are being followed

Ultimately the reason does not matter; when a patron asks for a neat angel shot, they are asking for someone to walk them to their car. We recommend having someone from your security team escort them, but if that is not an option, then send two bar employees to go together. 

An Angel Shot Iced or With Ice

A visualization of an angel shot with ice.

A patron ordering an iced angel shot is requesting the bartender to call a taxi or Uber for them, with no questions asked. This is most likely because the patron feels unsafe and wants to quickly get away from their companion without alerting them. 

In addition to calling a taxi or ordering an Uber for the patron, the bartender needs to find a discreet way to notify the patron that their ride has arrived. You could tell the patron they have a call at the bar or bring them water in a shot glass, proclaiming that their angel shot is here.  

An Angel Shot With Lime or With a Twist

A visualization of an angel shot with lime.

Finally, ordering an angel shot with lime means the customer is in immediate danger and needs the bartender to call the police. As a bartender, this is the most serious of all the angel shots, so you must take it seriously. 

An angel shot with lime is only ordered if a crime has been or is being committed. The bartender might also be required to make a statement to the police since he or she is the one that made the call.   

What is the Purpose of Ordering an Angel Shot?

The purpose of ordering an angel shot is to discreetly ask for help. This can be for a plethora of reasons, but it is most commonly used when patrons do not want to draw attention or confront their aggressor. In situations of sexual harassment or assault, victims may be afraid of retaliation, further violence, or being blamed for what happened. 

By using the code of an angel shot, customers can discreetly signal to bartenders that they need help without drawing unwanted attention or risking their safety. This allows bartenders to take swift action to prevent dangerous situations from escalating and empowers customers to feel safer and in control of their surroundings.

How to Serve an Angel Shot 

If you're a bartender, knowing how to handle an angel shot order with discretion and respect is important. Here are some tips:

  1. Remain calm: When someone orders an angel shot, staying calm and composed is essential. This can help put the patron at ease and prevent them from feeling more anxious or scared.
  2. Identify the cause of danger: If the patron is in immediate danger from another patron or staff member, it's important to identify who is causing the danger and take action accordingly.
  3. Notify security: If your establishment has security personnel, discreetly let them know that an angel shot has been ordered and that you need their assistance.
  4. Take the patron to a safe place: If the patron needs to leave the establishment for their safety, discreetly take them to a safe place, such as a back room or their car, through the back door.
  5. Call the police: If the situation is particularly dangerous or the patron requests an angel shot with lime, call the police to ensure their safety.

Remember, serving an angel shot is about creating a safe and welcoming environment for all patrons. By handling these situations with discretion and respect, you can make your establishment a place where everyone feels comfortable and secure.

A security guard standing outside a club that serves angel shots.

Who should order an angel shot?

Angel shots are intended for anyone who feels unsafe or uncomfortable in a bar or club setting. This can include women, men, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and patrons of all ages — they are for anyone being harassed or threatened. 

It is important to note that angel shots are not just for women, as anyone can be a victim of sexual assault or harassment. If you are a bar owner or manager, you must train your bartenders and security team to properly handle each of the angel shot requests. It is good practice to include this in your onboarding training.

How can angel shots help to prevent dangerous situations?

Angel shots can be incredibly useful in preventing dangerous situations by providing a discreet way for customers to signal that they need help. This allows bartenders to intervene before a situation escalates. 

Additionally, knowing that angel shots are available can give customers peace of mind and make them feel more comfortable in the bar.

A woman in a bar drinking a cocktail, as she considers ordering an angel shot.

The Importance of Bar Safety

The prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in bars and clubs is a serious problem. According to a 2017 report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 25% of women and 20% of men experience sexual harassment in bars and clubs. 

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that alcohol is often a factor in sexual assault cases.

Angel shots are just one part of a larger effort to promote bar safety. Other tips to increase the safety of your bar include:

  1. Training staff to recognize and prevent sexual harassment and assault.
  2. Installing security cameras.
  3. Implementing a visible code of conduct for patrons and staff that outlines expectations and consequences for violations.
  4. Offering a safe ride program, such as partnering with a ride-sharing service or providing a shuttle service, to ensure patrons don’t drink and drive.
  5. Limiting or discontinuing the service of alcohol to individuals who appear to be heavily intoxicated or otherwise at risk of causing harm to themselves or others.
  6. Encouraging customers to drink responsibly and ensuring the availability of non-alcoholic drinks and food.
  7. Regularly reviewing and updating security measures and procedures, such as checking and maintaining locks and alarms, hiring security staff, and having an emergency plan in place.

By implementing these strategies, you can help create a safe and welcoming atmosphere in your establishment. Remember, promoting bar safety isn't just good for your customers; it's good for business too. Customers are more likely to return to a bar where they feel comfortable and secure.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Angel Shots

In conclusion, angel shots are valuable for promoting bar safety and preventing sexual assault. By providing a discreet way for customers to signal that they need help, bartenders can intervene before a situation escalates. 

It is important to remember the three types of angel shots: neat, with ice, and with lime, each representing a different level of assistance. It's essential for bartenders and staff to be aware of angel shots and how to respond appropriately when a customer orders one.

However, angel shots are just one part of a larger effort to promote bar safety. To create a safe and secure environment for customers, bars and clubs must prioritize staff training, implement security measures, and cultivate a culture of respect and inclusivity. By working together, we can create a safer nightlife experience for everyone.

Table of content

March 2023


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