For Those Using Online Dating Apps Or Meeting New People In Bars, The Secret Menu Item: A Unique Marketing Strategy for Angel Shots in Hospitality To Keep Patrons Safe


Editor’s Note: The concept of the ‘angel shot’ has become popular in the US, as well as in Britain as “Ask for Angela.” Its primary usefulness is when someone is concerned that their drink has been spiked. They can use this in the brief time before they become incapacitated by the spiked drink, and is useful in all bars and other nightlife locations. It was created to provide a discreet signal that someone is in need of help. A great article on how to avoid becoming a victim of drink spiking can be found on Talk To Frank here

Unfortunately, drink spiking has been an issue for a long time, and remains one today. Whereas in the 80’s the drug of choice was ruhipnol, or “roofies,” today there are many more chemicals that can be used to incapacitate someone in order to rob them or sexually assault them. As has happened to several victims of murder at gay nightclubs in recent months, this can also lead to death if the person puts too much into a drink, or if that person has an unexpected reaction to the drug.

The angel shot request, or similar secret menu item requests, can be helpful in this situation. Bar staff are trained to respond appropriately to this secret signal, and get the person either to their car (“straight up” or “neat”), call a taxi (“with ice” or “on the rocks”), or in severe cases, to call the police (“with a twist/lemon/lime”).

Every person who attends bars and night spots regularly should become familiar with any secret drink signal that the particular place uses, or just be aware of the “angel shot” term itself, as they will still respond to this signal, which may be more familiar to victimizers. However, once the signal has been given, it is really too late for them to continue their intended crime.

The concept of angel shots is becoming more popular on social media platforms, as people are sharing information about the discreet signal for requesting help in bars.

As a result, more people are becoming familiar with the concept [including people intending to do harm], and the original angel shot signal may no longer be as effective in maintaining privacy and discretion. Therefore, finding an alternative, less-known signal, such as a unique secret menu item, can be beneficial for establishments to continue to provide a secure and pleasant environment for their customers.

Implementing a secret menu item is not only creative but also beneficial for establishments, as it caters to their regulars while still allowing the original angel shot order to work for non-regulars who are not familiar with the secret item. To successfully implement a secret menu item, each establishment should create a unique item that rhymes with “angel shots” and advertise it discreetly in social media or other appropriate places such as restroom posters.

However, to maintain the privacy and discretion that make the secret menu item valuable, establishments must train their staff to recognize the signs and respond appropriately. This includes explaining to staff that the secret menu item is reserved for special customers and that they should keep its meaning confidential.

For instance, a curious customer might order a “Guardian Angel” margarita, not realizing its true purpose. In this scenario, the server should respond by asking the customer if they are aware of the drink’s secret meaning. If the customer is not aware, the server can explain the concept of the secret menu item, being careful not to reveal the exact signal for assistance.

As hospitality businesses strive to provide a secure and pleasant environment for their customers, the concept of angel shots has become increasingly popular.

Nightlife. Image Credit - Chan Walrus

Nightlife. Image Credit – Chan Walrus

The origin of the angel shots can be traced back to Lincolnshire, England, in 2016, when a woman was tragically murdered by her husband. [Editor’s Note: The concept in England is “Ask For Angela,” and was named in honor of Angela Crampton, even though she herself was not murdered at a bar]

Angel shots are a discreet way for bar patrons to request assistance from bartenders or staff without drawing unwanted attention.

They can be used to remove oneself from an uncomfortable situation or to arrange a safe ride home.

However, it can be challenging to promote angel shots without compromising the discretion and privacy that make them effective.

That’s where the secret menu item comes in.  Rather than advertising angel shots directly, establishments can create a secret menu item designed to help customers in need.

For instance, a fake cocktail could be listed on the menu that signals to staff that the customer requires assistance. This approach allows customers to discreetly communicate their needs without attracting unwanted attention.

To implement a successful secret menu, follow these tips:

  • Be creative with your menu items. Your secret menu items should be unique and memorable. Consider using playful names or descriptions that make them stand out, such as a Guardian Angel Margarita or a Halo-tini.
  • Make it exclusive. The secret menu should be reserved for special customers, only for those who request it.
  • Hide the item in plain sight. The secret item should be included in the menu.
  • Advertise discreetly. While the goal is to keep the item a secret, it’s still important to advertise it to the right people.
  • Consider using social media or email newsletters to promote the secret menu item to regular customers.
  • Train your staff. Staff members should be trained to recognize the signs and respond appropriately. Ensure that they understand the importance of discretion and privacy.

In conclusion, the secret menu item is a creative and effective way to promote the concept of angel shots while maintaining the privacy and discretion that make them valuable. By using unique menu item and hiding the sign in plain sight, establishments can help their customers in need without attracting unwanted attention . A clever cocktail name that rhymes with “angel shots” can also add a touch of whimsy to the menu. By training staff to recognize the signs and respond appropriately, establishments can ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all customers.

Banner Image: Drinks at the bar. Image Credit – Prem Pal Singh Tanwar


Omar Bennani

Meet Omar Bennani, an aspiring journalist with a diverse background in both marketing and the hospitality industry. After earning a master's degree in marketing and customer relationship management from a French university, he began his career in advertising. However, it wasn't until he moved to New York that he stumbled upon his true calling in the hospitality industry. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a successful restaurant floor manager, where he found inspiration for his writing. With his experience working with Michelin star chefs and in events such as the Super Bowl, Omar has a unique perspective on how to create a memorable dining experience for guests and how to achieve success in the competitive world of restaurants. Drawing on his extensive experience in both marketing and the hospitality industry, Omar has become a respected voice in the field of restaurant marketing. His articles offer valuable insights for anyone looking to improve their marketing strategies and succeed in the hospitality industry. "Marketing Mavens: Insights from the Hospitality Industry"

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