If you haven’t heard of Angel Shots, it’s time to catch up. They’re not Liquor Shots, but you should be serving them. did-you-know
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Did You Know . . . ?

Brace yourself. You're about to read some very uncomfortable facts.

  • One in five women in the U.S. has experienced rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.
  • Sexual abuse has affected 41.8% of women in this country.
  • Almost 24.8% of men in the U.S. have experienced sexual violence in some form or the other.
If you're wondering why we're talking about sexual abuse and violence on a website that's all about food and drink, your confusion is valid. But we have a point to make.

Bars and restaurants are often fertile ground for unsolicited sexual overtures. Fuelled by alcohol, sexual advances fly thick and fast, often making their recipients uncomfortable and unsafe. Those propositioned don't often speak up, unwilling to draw attention to an embarrassing (but potentially dangerous) situation. How can you, as a manager, help your customers feel safe? How can you come to the aid of a customer in distress without embarrassing them?

By serving angle shots.

What's an angel shot, you ask? Read on...

Angel Shots? Are They a New Kind of Liquor Shot?

The results would be amusing if you sought answers to the question- "what's an angel shot?" on one of the artificial intelligence-led content generation tools. Some would give you results like- "vodka and cranberry juice served in a shot glass with a lemon twist," or "scotch on the rocks," and many more such variations.

But an angel shot is not an alcoholic drink at all, or even a drink in the first place! It's a code that signals 'I need help!'.

The original angel shot was created as a way to protect women from being taken advantage of when they're drunk or alone. But it can also be useful in other situations, like when you're feeling uncomfortable around someone at the bar or want to leave, but don't want to make a scene. Ordering an angel shot is a discreet way to signal for help without having to confront your harasser.

Bartenders and servers trained to recognize the signs of harassment can play an important role in interceding the message and keeping their customers safe. The bartender will either eject the harasser from the premises or escort the person feeling unsafe to their car. Angel shots give people a way to assert their safety without challenging their harasser.

A Brief History of Angel Shots

The core idea for angel shots took root in Lincolnshire, England, in 2016. Bars and pubs in the area put up signs in the restrooms encouraging anyone feeling uncomfortable or threatened to go to the counter and "Ask for Angela."

By the end of that year, the trend traveled across the Atlantic to a small bar in St. Petersburg, Florida, called the Iberian Rooster. Females tweeted that they saw a sign in the Rooster's restroom advising them to ask for Angel Shot if they needed help.

Then, as the #MeToo movement gained traction in 2017 and 2018, with numerous stories of women being harassed or assaulted coming to the fore on Social Media (many of them in bars), operators and managers realized there wasn't enough being done to help people at risk. Angel shots provided a way for bartenders and servers to keep an eye out for potential trouble and give women a way to ask for help if they needed it discreetly.

What People Have to Say About These ‘No-Liquor Shots’

Some have called angel shots 'a marvelous idea', others haven't been too kicked about it.

Some feel it empowers women to take control of their own safety. Others feel it victimizes them and implies that they are always at risk of being attacked. Some feel that the whole concept reinforces gender stereotypes, as it suggests that men are naturally aggressive and violent, while women are passive and helpless.

Others argue that angel shots put the responsibility of preventing sexual assault on women instead of men. They argue that if we want to prevent sexual assault, we need to teach men not to rape, instead of teaching women how to defend themselves.

This debate will likely continue for a while. For the time being, however, more and more bars and restaurants have warmed to the concept.

The TikTok Video That Went Viral

L.A. bartender Benjamin Smith (Benjispears) went viral with a TikTok video last year that received over 10 million views. Attempting to help people understand the concept better, he enacted how he would react when somebody ordered an angel shot -- reading the body language of the person and acting on the situation. He went on to talk about three common variations of the angel shot.

  • Angel Shot With Lime- It means that you need the police, so the bartenders or servers will notify the manager and get the police involved.
  • Angel Shot Neat- It means you want somebody to walk you to your car.
  • Angel Shot On the Rocks- It means you want someone to help you book a cab.
With more than 2.4 million likes at the time, the post received many comments and confessions about how the angel shot had saved them from uncomfortable situations in the past.

Another TikTok, Another Take

Ben's TikTok post received great response, but not everyone was impressed with the video. Michelle Charlotte, a bartender and content creator with over 3.5 million followers, was worried about over-publicizing the secret drink. She was worried that it would defeat the purpose and feared that "its widespread awareness will ruin its secrecy."

"I feel like the whole point of an Angel Shot is to ask the bartender for help discreetly," she said in her TikTok video. "We've been publicizing it so much, making it so well known, that if somebody asks me for one, the person next to them that they're asking help from is going to know what it is."

Many, of course, agreed with this point of view.

Are You Ready for Angel Shots?

The use of codewords like 'Angel Shots' or 'Asking For Angela' is becoming increasingly common in bars and restaurants. With more people becoming aware of the dangers of alcohol and drugs, safe words are a way for patrons to let the Restaurant Management, bartenders or servers know they need help. But is only implementing a safe word enough?

Absolutely not! You must have a solid plan for what to do if someone does order this 'drink'. Also make sure to promote the program to your customers effectively, so that they are aware of it.

Here are a few ways to start-

  1. Be sure that your bartenders and servers are aware of the policy and are comfortable implementing it.
  2. Post signs in visible locations throughout your bar explaining the policy to customers.
  3. Make sure you have a clear and concise written policy that all staff members can reference.
  4. Train staff members on how to handle situations when customers order angel shots.
  5. Be prepared to deal with customer complaints or questions about the policy.
  6. Draw up a plan to deal with potential legal issues that could arise from implementing an angel shot policy.
  7. Be sure to monitor the effectiveness of the policy regularly, take Customer Feedback and make adjustments where necessary.