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The Angel Shot: What It Is & Why Your Bar or Restaurant Should Implement It

The Angel Shot

Table of Contents

Quick Summary

Angel Shot Meaning: The Angel Shot isn’t actually a shot – or a drink at all. Put simply, the Angel Shot is something that a patron can order to let staff at a bar or restaurant know that they feel unsafe. In this way, employees can intercede and potentially head off a dangerous encounter.

Every 68 seconds, a woman, man or child is sexually assaulted in the United States. In 8 out of 10 cases, the perpetrator is someone known to the victim – such as an acquaintance, or a current or former romantic partner. Given these scary statistics, it is little wonder that so many organizations are working hard to reduce the rate of sexual violence in the U.S.

One such initiative is known as the “Angel Shot.” Put simply, the Angel Shot is something that a patron can order to let staff at a bar or restaurant know that they feel unsafe. In this way, employees can intercede and potentially head off a dangerous encounter.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, awareness about sexual violence is at an all-time high in the United States. If you own a bar or restaurant, establishing an Angel Shot protocol may help to keep your guests safe. It can also be a great way to show your customers that you care.


What Is the Angel Shot?

The Angel Shot isn’t actually a shot – or a drink at all. Instead, it’s a code that patrons can use to let you or your staff know that they need help or that they are in a difficult situation.

The Angel Shot arose from the “Ask for Angela” campaign that started in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. This campaign was designed to prevent sexual assault by urging people who felt unsafe on a date or around another patrol to “Ask for Angela.” When staff got the request, they would call a cab or order a rideshare and help the individual leave the situation discreetly – and safely.

In the United States, the “Ask for Angela” campaign is known as the Angel Shot. The way that it works is simple: if a patron asks for an Angel Shot, they feel unsafe in some way. The staff can respond by helping them get out of there, or even by removing another patron who is making that person feel uncomfortable.

Variations Of The Angel Shot

There are three different types Angel Shots. Depending on what a guest orders, bar or restaurant employees will know what to do:

  1. Neat or straight up: the guest needs an escort to their car;
  2. On ice: the server should get the patron a taxi or an Uber; or
  3. With lime or a twist: staff should call the police.

Benjamin Smith is an LA bartender that went viral for explaining the angel shot in a TikTok. Benjamin does a great job of portraying how the situation might unfold at a bar if an angel shot is ordered. You can watch the video below.

@benjispears #greenscreen The Angel Shot could save your life 🥰 #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #serverlife #bartender #funny #comedy #trend #trending #food #cooking ♬ House Music (Deep House) – 阿增&苏七岁&气质隆Sir

These are the basic formulations for the Angel Shot, but each establishment may have their own options to signal something different. For example, a patron may order the Angel Shot in a way that indicates that another guest is in an unsafe situation and cannot make the order themselves. Additional uses for the angel shot may include:

  • Needing the staff to call a friend or family member on their behalf
  • Alerting staff that the guest believes their previous drink may have been spiked by someone at the restaurant or bar
  • Ordering the drink for another guest in an unsafe situation that can’t order for themselves
  • Needing to speak to management

Typically, a bar or restaurant advertises Angel Shots by placing signage in women’s restrooms. These signs let patrons know that they can order an Angel Shot if they need help getting out of an unsafe situation. In addition, the concept has gone somewhat viral, so that many people already know that they can ask for an Angel Shot if they need help.


Why Should Your Bar or Restaurant Use the Angel Shot?

If you operate a bar or restaurant, you probably already take a number of steps to ensure your guests’ safety. For example, you may put up signs to indicate a wet floor, or have your servers warn customers that a plate is hot before setting it down. Implementing the Angel Shot concept is another way to keep guests safe.

There is an epidemic of sexual violence in the United States – and most of these crimes are committed by someone known to the victim. While neither you nor your staff can prevent all potential sexual assaults, setting up a system like the Angel Shot is a relatively easy, low cost way to offer an additional measure of safety.

The Angel Shot costs little to nothing to implement. At most, you will need to put up some signs in the restroom(s), and talk to your staff about what it means. From there, it is simply a matter of responding if a customer asks for this drink.

Doing good can also benefit your business. Many customers are happy to learn that a bar or restaurant is being proactive when it comes to preventing sexual violence. If you search “Angel Shot” on social media sites like Instagram, you will likely find a number of pictures of signs in bars and restaurants throughout the country.


How To Implement The Angel Shot For Your Bar Or Restaurant

Any type of bar or restaurant can easily develop their own angel shot system. You’ll need to do two things to implement the angel shot, or some other safe phrase for your restaurant or bar: make your customers aware of the phrase and educate your staff on the process to follow if the phrase is used.

You can make your customers aware of the phrase by placing signs in the restroom. Some establishments will only put up signs in the women’s restroom while others will place signs in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. You may want to implement separate phrases for each bathroom so that men and women aren’t aware of each others’ safe phrases. You can see photos of posters from real bars and restaurants below for inspiration. We also have free posters you can download and print further down in the post.


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A post shared by Holly Rasmussen (@holly__rasmussen)


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Alerting customers is one half of the solution, but the system won’t work if your staff doesn’t know what to do when a phrase is used. While only certain staff members may be the ones taking action (usually the bartenders), all of your front of house staff should know what the phrase means and who to turn to when a phrase is used. You’ll want to conduct a training for all existing staff. You’ll likely also want to update your onboarding training to include training on the safe phrase for future new hires.


Limitations Of The Angel Shot

The Angel Shot is not without its critics. Typically, signs about the Angel Shot are posted in women’s bathrooms – which makes sense, given statistics on sexual violence. Of course, women are not the only potential victims of sexual assault. By only posting Angel Shot signs in women’s restrooms, men and non-binary people may not be aware of this option if they are feeling unsafe on a date.

The popularity of the Angel Shot campaign may also make it less effective. After all, if everyone knows about it, then it is no longer a covert way for a person in trouble to ask for help. Similarly, if you post signs about the Angel Shot in all bathrooms, potential predators will be alerted to its meaning.

Staff safety is another aspect that owners will have to consider. Studies from the Bureau of Labor Statistics have found that approximately 60% of bartenders are women – who themselves are sometimes subjected to sexual harassment at work. Asking staff to take on the role of a protector can put their own lives at risk. This additional responsibility can add an even greater burden to staff members that may already feel overworked and underpaid.

These issues don’t mean that the Angel Shot is a bad idea, however. It still may be an effective way for your bar or restaurant to intervene on behalf of a guest in a bad situation – and prevent them from coming to harm.

At a minimum, your staff should receive basic training about what an Angel Shot is. That way, if a customer asks a server or bartender for this type of drink, they will know that this guest is asking for help. They can then go to a manager and get guidance on how to handle the situation.


Additional Safe Words Used At Bars & Restaurants

While the angel shot is gaining popularity as a universal safe word, there are other phrases and words that are commonly used. Many bars will even have their own unique phrase or series of safe words to make things more covert.

  • Asking for Angela: As previously mentioned, “Ask for Angela” is part of a popular campaign in the UK designed to combat sexual assault. The initiative started in 2016 in Lincolnshire and has since expanded. It was named in remembrance of Angela Crompton, who was abused and killed by her husband in 2012. Patrons simply ask if they can speak to Angela to alert the staff that they need help.
  • Virgin vodka: Virgin vodka is a safe word recognized by some bars and restaurants across the country. It’s designed to be a safe word for men who need help from the staff. If a man feels unsafe they can order a virgin vodka. It can be misconstrued, because virgin vodka is also urban slang for water. However, there are accounts of patrons successfully using this phrase to escape unsafe situations.
  • Virgin tequila: Virgin tequila is another safe word that is sometimes used at bars and restaurants. Virgin tequila is meant to be a safe word for women who need help from staff. Women can order a virgin tequila to alert a bar staff member to the fact that they could use help.

These phrases can vary from establishment to establishment. Some bars have customers ask for someone other than Angela (like Stacey or Trisha). Other bars have different drinks customers can order for help.

Free Downloadable Posters

Want to implement the angel shot or ask for Angela campaigns in your establishment? You can save yourself time by downloading the free posters on our site. All you have to do is print the posters and hang them up. You can click the links below to download the posters.

Helping You Build Your Brand

There are a lot of things to take into consideration if you own a bar or restaurant, from figuring out licenses and permits to designing a floor plan to deciding if you should implement the Angel Shot. Marketing your business doesn’t have to be complicated, particularly when it comes to your custom disposable products.

Budget Branders works hard to help small to medium sized businesses succeed. We offer custom branded coffee cups, custom paper bags, custom coffee sleeves, custom plastic cups, custom paper cups, custom deli containers, custom wax deli paper, custom sandwich bags, custom napkins, custom stadium cups, custom soup bowls, custom dessert bowls, and more in sizes and quantities that make sense for your business.

We are committed to affordable prices and exceptional services. If you’d like to learn more, fill out our online contact form. You can also click the live chat button to request a free quote.



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