Did you know there is a secret shot you can order from your local bartender to let them know you are in trouble?

About a week ago I was at a local restaurant/bar here in Missoula with a friend when she had to excuse herself to the restroom. When she came back she had told me about a poster in the women's restroom. The poster was describing a "safety shot" to order from the bartender if a patron was feeling unsafe. She even took a picture and showed me.

I thought this was an absolute great idea. Now I did some research and want to preface that this isn't just for Missoula, but seems to be nationwide. I know Missoula has come under fire in recent years for such things. I don't really want to get into that, but I can tell you that any community, especially college towns, deal with exactly what Missoula has been experiencing. Along with being a radio professional, I have been a professional bartender for the better part of 20 years. I've seen it all in the bar business from Montana to Southern California. I can tell you with 100% honesty, your bartenders first priority is your safety. That's in part why I thought this "safety shot" was a really good idea, but definitely needs some tweaks. I'll get into that in a minute. First I want to give you the details of the "shot".

If you are feeling unsafe at a bar, for whatever reason, and you can't tell your bartender for whatever fear might happen here is what you order.

An Angel Shot:  Ordering this drink will let your bartender know that you are feeling uncomfortable and need some sort of assistance. It gives them a heads up to your situation and they can discreetly offer assistance. Asking if "Angela" is working is also a code, just be aware there might actually be a bartender named Angela.

Angel Shot Over Ice: This lets the bartender that you need a safe ride home. They can order you a cab, Uber, Lyft etc.

An Angel Shot with Lime: This is to be ordered when you are in severe danger and the police need to be called.

Again, I love this idea. If you've kept up with local Missoula crime, you know it's on the rise, and you can never be too safe when out and about downtown. Here is where I do see a few things that need to be said, or re-worked with this. First, the bartenders need to be trained on this scenario. Like I said, I've been a bartender for many years, and this is the first I've heard of this. Every bartender, manager, server, bouncer etc. needs to be aware of these code words to make them viable. Communication is crucial when it comes to safety.

Now, let's say EVERYONE is on the same page and these safety shots are common knowledge. Well, that means the very people putting you in danger will soon become aware, and ordering these drinks discreetly could only exasperate the situation. What I can tell you, from an experienced standpoint, if you are not able to use one of these safety shots, there are other subtle hints your bartender can pick up on. We've seen it all. First, your bartender should automatically be aware if you are too intoxicated and need a safe ride. Again, your safety is the first priority. Giving a subtle head nod, or eye motion to trouble with your bartender is another easy way to your bartenders attention. If you need to get away from someone to talk, asking them to show you where the restroom is, or asking them how to use the jukebox to get away to talk is a good move too. If all else fails, please just tell you bartender you are feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, or that you need help.

In any instance always try and practice safety precautions when  going out. Stick with friends or people that you know if possible. If you are going out alone, make sure someone knows where you are, and do your best to drink responsibly. It's a good idea to introduce yourself to your local bartender and even give them a heads up to your situation (you're meeting a blind date, just getting off work for a beer etc.)

Have fun downtown, but be safe, Missoula!


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