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By
Matthew Krimmel

What Is an Angel Shot?

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An angel shot isn't a shot or a drink. It's a code that sends a signal to the bar staff that you need assistance. Basically, it’s a simple and effective way to request help from a bartender. From a restaurateur's perspective, it's an easy way to protect your patrons and ensure that they feel safe.

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Angel Shot Sign

It started with the "Ask for Angela" campaign in Lincolnshire, England, implemented in 2016 to prevent sexual assaults. Angela was a fictional character created to raise awareness to the following four questions while on a date:

  • Are you on a date that isn’t working out?
  • Is your date not who they said they were in their online profile?
  • Do you feel like you’re in a safe situation?
  • Does it all feel a bit off?

Bars in the Lincolnshire area posted signs in both women’s and men’s restrooms.  The signs encouraged patrons to seek assistance at the bar if they believed they were in any danger. It urged women who felt unsafe on a date or in an uncomfortable situation to "Ask for Angela."

When the staff received the request, they would call a cab and help the person leave discreetly and safely. It let customers know that someone was there to help them in a difficult or potentially dangerous situation.

The idea quickly gained popularity on social media. A bartender named Benjamin Smith, who lives in Los Angeles, recorded a video on TikTok. He posted it under his username @benjispears and explained the three types of angel shots.

Bars and restaurants worldwide have since implemented this policy or something similar.

In the United States, it became known as an “Angel Shot.” Similarly, if a patron asks for one, it means they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. The staff can help them leave the bar or even escort the person who’s causing the bad situation out of the establishment.

Ordering an Angel Shot at a Bar

Depending on which shot the guest orders, a restaurant or bar that recognizes its meaning will know what to do. There are three different angel shots, each a signal that bartenders and restaurant managers should know as a plea for help.

Angel Shot “With Lime” or “With a Twist”

A patron in a bar asks for one "with lime" or "with a twist" when they want the staff to call the police. It means it could be an emergency situation for the patron.

Angel Shot "On Ice," "With Ice," or "On the Rocks"

Asking for one "on ice," "with ice," or "on the rocks" means the guest wants the staff to order a taxi.

Angel Shot “Neat” or “Straight Up”

Requesting one "neat" or "straight up" means the patron wants someone to escort them to their vehicle. They feel this is their best option for safely exiting the restaurant or bar.

 

Why Should Your Bar or Restaurant Use It?

It’s Free and Easy to Implement

If you manage bar or restaurant operations, you probably already take numerous measures to keep your customers safe. Adding this shot or a related concept is another way of maintaining a safe place to eat and drink. It might be impossible to completely eliminate uncomfortable situations, but this is an easy and free way to offer additional security.

It would cost hardly anything to put up signs in the restrooms and provide awareness and training to your bar staff. Be sure that they are familiar with whatever terminology you use and know what steps to take for each situation.

After these steps are in place, your staff will be ready to respond if anyone orders it from the bartender. Usually, the bar staff would require minimal training in this area. They could alert the manager or security guard, who would promptly step in and handle the situation.

Offer Peace of Mind to Your Customers

Using this concept can also benefit your bar or restaurant. People will feel safer at your place with the knowledge that you've adopted this procedure.

Customers are happy to learn that a bar or restaurant is taking steps to combat the issue of violence. Even if someone never needs to order it at your bar, the knowledge of its existence provides them with peace of mind. Since the “Ask for Angela” campaign began in England in 2016, countless bars and restaurants have implemented this policy to protect their patrons. It's arguably one of the most effective bar and restaurant improvement ideas to come about in the past decade.

Discretion and Subtlety

Asking for one of these shots is a subtle action that shouldn't draw much attention. Ideally, the person causing the issue won't know what's happening until the bar or restaurant staff has already acted. A staff member escorts the potential victim to their vehicle, or the police arrive on the scene to handle the situation.

Using discretion also reduces the possibility of a physical altercation occurring between the staff and perpetrator. Some bystanders might not understand what's happening or whether they should intervene in the matter. This procedure minimizes any unwanted attention that discourages victims from taking action. It contributes to better operational efficiency in restaurants.

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Reduce The Risk

Most bars and restaurants take every precaution to keep patrons safe. Unfortunately, there’s always some risk of an unpleasant situation occurring, especially for women. However, an easy and effective procedure like the angel shot can increase the feeling of security for your customers.

It's possible your bar or restaurant already utilizes the concept. If not, it's something worth adding to your bar training and policies so that your guests can focus on enjoying their evening out.

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