An Important Announcement from Garbo

What is an Angel Shot? (Plus Other Underground Dating Safety Tips You Should Know)

July 25, 2022
Brea Threatt

No matter how cautious you are when using Tinder and other dating sites, there is only so much you can know about a person from their online dating profile. Even if you're not being catfished, you may still find yourself on a date with someone who is making you uncomfortable.

If you feel uneasy about the person you're meeting with — or you find yourself in a dangerous predicament — and you don't know what to say, you can try to order an angel shot.

An angel shot is something that a patron can order to let the staff at a bar or restaurant know that they are in a difficult situation.

This term was inspired by a similar practice in London, where women would "ask for Angela" to signal an unsafe situation during a date. If you're a bartender, you may have been asked to fix an angel shot before, or maybe you've seen it trending on social media and want to learn more about it. Either way, learning more about this global trend could help save yourself and others.

What is an angel shot?

An angel shot isn't actually a drink, but rather a code word guests can use to let the bar staff know that they feel unsafe and need some help. The staff can respond by helping them exit safely, and, if warranted, the staff may even remove the offender who is making that person feel uncomfortable. In some cases, a patron may order the angel shot on behalf of another guest who is in an unsafe situation and cannot make the order themselves.

In 2016, the Tampa Bay community caught wind of the angel shot after a local restaurant placed an angel shot poster in its women’s restroom, advising them to order an angel shot if they ever want to escape a bad date. The owner of the Iberian Rooster, a now defunct Portuguese fusion eatery in downtown St. Petersburg, did this to ensure that guests felt safe when meeting new people. This idea was inspired by the photo of a similar sign taken in a women's bathroom at a bar in England that went viral on Twitter earlier that year.

The original signage was created by Lincolnshire Rape Crisis, a support service for survivors of sexual violence in East England, as a part of the Ask for Angela campaign. This campaign was started in an effort to keep people safe from sexual assault. They developed posters that were plastered in the bathroom stalls of numerous restaurant and bars, urging women to approach a bartender or staff member if they feel uncomfortable on a date by "asking for Angela."

How to order an angel shot

Depending on what type of angel shot a guest orders, bar or restaurant employees will take different actions. Bartender and entertainer Benji Spears shared the codes in a viral TikTok that has been viewed over 11.2 million times in the past year.

There are technically three ways you can order an angel shot:

  1. An angel shot Neat or Straight up means that you would like someone (i.e., the bouncer or bartender) to walk you to your car because you’re not feeling safe enough to leave alone.
  2. An angel shot On the rocks or on ice means that you would like the server to call a taxi or rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft, for you and escort you out.
  3. An angel shot With lime/lemon or With a twist means that you are in a dangerous situation, and a staff member should call the police immediately.

Remember that not every bartender is familiar with the angel shot order.

If you ask for an angel shot and they ask what that is, try to get close to them (i.e., whisper it in their ear) or say, “ask another bartender,” and see if they come back with the right answer. Also, keep in mind that these are the three most basic versions of the angel shot, but each establishment may have their own variations that signal something different.

While ordering an angel shot isn’t a surefire way to get help, it can open the door to a conversation with the bartender and enable you or someone you know get to safety.

Other underground safety tips

While it can be exciting to meet someone new, you should always have an emergency plan. As angel shots gain popularity across the country and on social media, the discretion of these code words could become less effective. You still have to be extremely cautious when asking for them because your unwanted guest may also be aware of these code words.

There are a few other tips you can use to safely escape from a potentially dangerous situation at a bar or restaurant:

  1. Go to the bathroom - When you’re in the bathroom, or walking towards the bathroom, tell someone what's going on. Both of you can come up with a plan (i.e., they pretend to be your friend, they tell the bartender themselves, etc.)
  2. Try to order the drinks yourself - If you can, offer to go to the bar and order another round, and have them stay where they are. Once you've gotten away from them, you can either make an immediate exit or go to the bartender and tell them what is happening.
  3. Tell someone - If you see someone who looks trustworthy, even if they’re a stranger, tell them what is going on and see if they will help. To avoid causing a scene, you can pretend to say something quietly, have them respond they can’t hear you, and then get closer and whisper in their ear.

Before you meet up someone new, you can run a background check to make sure they do not have a violent or harmful criminal record. Even on the first date, pay attention to any early red flags and trust your gut if you feel like something's not right. Never jeopardize your safety to please the person you're with – you don't owe them your time, and you should always put your safety first.

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