Posted on: October 10, 2022

Angel Shots: Protecting Customers from Sexual Assault

angel shots

What is an Angel Shot?

You may have recently seen several viral videos of a mock bar scene where someone orders an "Angel Shot" or just heard the term floating around. Though it sounds like a drink order, angel shots are not drinks at all – they are a discrete cry for help.

An angel shot is a drink order made by a customer to inform a bartender that they are in an unsafe situation and need assistance. They are one of many methods for bartenders to improve customer safety

A customer asking for an angel shot indicates that they need help but do not feel comfortable outright asking for it in their present situation. These orders are usually requested in the presence of someone else who puts the customer in a dangerous position or makes the customer feel uncomfortable.

By understanding the meaning of an angel shot and taking the appropriate actions, you can help customers who are at risk of the following:

  • Trafficking
  • Sexual assault
  • Abduction
  • Physical assault
  • Any other possible threats

Angel shots are a discrete way for someone to ask for help when they feel unsafe. Therefore, understanding what to do in the instance of an angel shot is vital.

Who Can Order an Angel Shot?

Anyone who feels threatened, unsafe, or unsure of a situation can order an angel shot. Regardless of age, race, gender, intoxication level, or any other factors, an angel shot indicates that the customer feels unsafe and needs help removing themselves from the situation.

Things do not need to seem escalated or heated for an angel shot to be ordered. It is the bartender's responsibility to take the words "angel shot" seriously, regardless of how the situation seems.

If you are wondering whether or not to order an angel shot, it is essential to note that safety should always come first. If someone makes you feel unsafe in any way, you should put your safety first and ask for help. It is better to use caution and prioritize your safety than risk getting hurt.

What Types of Angel Shots Are Available?

Depending on the type of assistance needed, some people who order an angel shot may use various additional terms to indicate what they need from the bartender.

Different restaurants may have different variations for their angel shots. However, an angel shot means you need help regardless of what other terms may be recognized.

Here are the other terms people may use and what they may mean:

Straight Up or Neat – The customer is requesting an escort to their car

On Ice or On the Rocks – The customer is asking the bartender to arrange for a taxi or rideshare vehicle discreetly

With a Twist/Lemon/Lime – The customer believes they're in immediate danger and requests that the police be called

What Should Bartenders Do When Someone Orders an Angel Shot?

When a customer orders an angel shot, it is the responsibility of the bartender to believe they are in an unsafe situation. The bartender should aid in getting the customer to safety. Some customers may be smiling and seem in good humor or even appear to be joking to make the situation seem normal and not alarm the potential threat. If someone orders an angel shot, bartenders should take immediate action.

If someone orders an angel shot, a bartender may do any of the following:

  • Alert the authorities
  • Order a ride for the requestor
  • Distract the person or group of people away from the ordering customer
  • Escort the customer to their vehicle

If a customer orders an angel shot without further directions, you need to choose how to handle the situation. You can ask the customer how they like their shot. They may reply "with lime" or another variation. This indicates the level of help they need (see the above section titled "What Types of Angel Shots Are Available").

Most bartenders will serve a customer a shot glass or drink with water, juice, or soda while waiting on authorities to arrive or until they have a chance to escort someone to their ride. This makes the appearance that the person ordered a drink and will not alert the potential abuser to take action and remove them from the situation.

Some customers may understand the concept of an angel shot without knowing or remembering how to request their specific needs in the order. It is best to smile and appear to accept the order. In this case, get the customer a non-alcoholic drink and look for a way to get the person alone to ask them what they need. If you cannot find a way to speak to the person, alert the authorities.

As a bartender, the safety of your customer comes above everything else. Taking the appropriate action when someone uses the term "angel shot" could save their life.