What Is an Angel Shot?

When a patron requests an angel shot, they don’t want a drink; they’re letting you know they are uncomfortable around a fellow guest and need help. Bar owners pride themselves on creating safe environments where customers can cut loose and have fun. While fire safety and sanitation standards are within their control, the attitudes and intentions of their guests are not.

Alarming Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports reveal sexual assaults occur every 68 seconds in America. Eight out of ten victims know their assailants. To run a successful bar, you must curate a space where customers are safe to release their inhibitions. You can help reduce sexual assault statistics by implementing the angel shot initiative and training staff members to respond correctly when a customer orders an angel shot.

Angel Shot Meaning

When a customer orders an angel shot, it means, “I’m in a concerning situation. Please help me get out of it.” How the customer orders the angel shot (neat, on ice, or with lime) reveals the severity of the situation and the type of intervention required. The angel shot was born from the viral “Ask for Angela” initiative.

What Does Ask For Angela Mean?

Ask for Angela is a sexual assault prevention campaign in Lincolnshire, U.K. It encourages bar patrons who feel unsafe with their date or uncomfortable around a fellow patron to go to the bar and “Ask for Angela.” Asking for Angela alerts staff members that the patron needs to make a discreet exit and needs a cab/Uber/Lyft called for them. The success of “Ask for Angela” in the U.K. sparked the angel shot initiative in the U.S.

Types of Angel Shots

Illustration of a shot served neat, a shot served on ice, and a shot served with lime.

There are different types of angel shots customers can order to reveal how threatened they feel and the type of help they require. An angel shot may spare a patron from a catfish date, or it might save their life. We break down the most common types of angel shots below. You can include other types of angel shots in your offerings, so customers have more options in unsafe situations.

  • Angel Shot Straight Up/Neat is code for, “I need an escort to my car.”
  • Angel Shot on Ice/on the Rocks is code for, “Please call a taxi/Uber/Lyft for me.”
  • Angel Shot with a Twist/Lemon/Lime is code for, “I am in immediate danger. Please call the police.”

Should Your Bar Offer Angel Shots?

As a bar owner, you may wonder if you should offer angel shots. We provide a list of the top benefits of angel shots below:

  • Free - Angel shots are a safety measure that won’t cost anything to implement.
  • Protects patrons - You spend resources to create a safe environment by upholding health codes, so why wouldn’t you take extra measures to protect your customers from violence and harassment?
  • Builds brand loyalty - Even if they don't need them, patrons appreciate it when bars and restaurants offer angel shots because it shows you care about their well-being. Customers frequent establishments where they know they are safe and cared for.

How Bartenders Should Respond to Angel Shots

A bartender smiles while pushing a customer's drink order forward

Having a game plan in place for how your staff should respond if a customer orders an angel shot will empower them to act with confidence. We've provided a few tips for how to handle an angel shot order below:

  • If the customer doesn't clarify which type of angel shot they need, ask.
  • Call over another staff member and tell them that the customer ordered an angel shot. The other staff member can call for the additional help necessary and alert the rest of the team and management.
  • A staff member should stay with the customer until the ride/police etc. arrives.
  • If the patron requested a ride by ordering an angel shot on ice, have the other staff member the bartender notified announce the "angel shot is ready" when the ride arrives. Then, both staff members can walk with the guest to their vehicle.
  • If a patron orders an angel shot neat, alert other staff members. Either have a bouncer or a group of servers escort the guest to their vehicle.
  • If a patron is at their table when they order an angel shot neat, tell them you have a few angel shot specials at the bar and ask them to come look at the menu. At the bar, alert other staff members and together escort them to their car.
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Angel Shot Sign

Advertising that your bar offers angel shot intervention allows customers to get the help they need, but it must be discreet. The power of the angel shot is it removes a patron from a potentially dangerous situation without drawing attention. For subtly, place angel shot signs in the bathrooms of your establishment.

Angel Shot Signs Should Include:

  1. Explanation of what an angel shot is
  2. Encouragement that it's worth ordering an angel shot for any situation that feels off
  3. What the different types of angel shots are
  4. The phone number of the National Sexual Assault Hotline

Where to Hang Angel Shot Signs

Upscale restroom at a bar

Once you make your angel shot sign, you must decide where to hang it. Some bars only place angel shot signs in women’s bathrooms, so men aren’t aware of them. However, this prevents men from receiving help. One out of every ten rape victims is male, so this is a major oversight.

One workaround is to develop two separate sets of angel shot drink orders for men and women that are exclusive to your bar. Have a different sign for men's/women's bathrooms that explains what the respective set of angel shot drink names mean.

As angel shots grow in popularity, having unique drinks and signs for men and women also helps keep your sexual violence prevention efforts discretionary. If a predator knows what an angel shot is, hearing the person they’re harassing order one could place their target in even greater danger. Train your staff to stay with the person who ordered the angel shot until they exit your business and enter safe transportation away from their harasser.

Having unique angel shots and signs for men and women cannot protect non-binary guests. If your space allows, create nonbinary bathrooms and angel shots for nonbinary customers. Place stickers to let your customers know your business is a safe, supportive place for the LGBTQIA+ community on the entrances. If messaging from the top down encourages nondiscrimination and safety for patrons of every sexual identity, it can help reduce violence and harassment.

Do All Bartenders Know What an Angel Shot Is?

The public awareness of angel shots has grown, and most bartenders know what an angel shot is. However, there are bartenders who aren't familiar with angel shots and won't know how to respond with speed, confidence, and discretion when a customer orders one. You should train your bar staff to understand what angel shots are and how to respond when a patron needs one.

How to Prevent Sexual Assault at Your Bar

Man harassing a woman at a bar

Offering angel shots is an added layer of sexual assault risk reduction you can easily implement. We offer a few tips for making the most of your angel shot initiative and other practices you can put into place to prevent sexual assault below.

  • If a customer orders an angel shot, alert all staff members. This removes the burden from a single employee to intervene in the situation and potentially endanger themselves.
  • Encourage staff to ask uneasy customers if they would like an angel shot. A customer in a distressing situation may not be able to come to the bar and order an angel shot for themselves. Train your staff to scan the barroom and ask customers who appear uncomfortable if they would like to try one of your angel shots.
  • Have an angel shot QR code. Employees can show visibly distressed patrons the QR code, which will pull up an explanation of what the different angel shots accomplish.
  • Designate a dining spot for first-time online dates. According to a ProPublica story, 30% of a polled group of 1,200 women who used online dating over the last 15 years experienced a form of sexual assault. Fifty-percent of those sexual assault instances were rape. As online dating has become the cultural norm, having a designated area staff monitor for signs of guest discomfort is an easy way to help ensure the safety of your patrons. If you can’t designate a specific area, encourage guests to notify their bartender, hostess, or server that they’re on a first-time online date when they arrive and/or order.
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While no one wants to think about sexual harassment and violence, their realities are unavoidable. By understanding what angel shots are and implementing them as a safety measure in your bar or restaurant, you can turn your business into a safe space for customers to relax and socialize. Hopefully, patrons won't require the angel shot service, but offering them is still a great way to show customers you care and build brand loyalty.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|Management & Operation|By Corrinn McCauley
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.
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