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A spirit that is not afraid

Advice from behind the bar

An innocent Saturday night downtown with friends, what could go wrong? From ways to stay safe downtown, to red flags to look out for, here are your local bartender’s tips and tricks to keep the good times rolling. 

Josh Whyte, a bartender at the Plaza Bar and Lounge in Midtown, has years of bartending experience under his belt. 

According to Whyte, holding your beverage close to your body, never handing your drink to others and paying attention to your surroundings are some of the most important ways to stay in control while out. 

Whyte warns that one of the biggest red flags is overeagerness, specifically regarding a location change.

“When someone seems very eager to come up and buy you a drink or take you somewhere that’s more secluded, or if they insist on going to get the drinks and having you wait where you are... that’s a red flag,” Whyte said.  

Even bartenders like Whyte aren’t immune to this threat. He experienced his own drink being spiked as he joined some friends downtown one night for a birthday celebration. After taking just few sips of one drink, he woke up in a Mcdonald’s parking lot, face down. The hospital later confirmed that his drink had been drugged. 

“It can happen so fast. You can be holding your drink, looking one way and someone could come by and drop something in it. You would have no idea.” Whyte said. 

Whyte also recommended being keenly aware of what your go-to drink is supposed to look and taste like. If it doesn’t taste right, you can hear it fizzing or think you see anything in it, don’t take another sip.  

Gillian Rader, junior in fine arts, is a bartender at 1716. After working downtown for a year and a half, she’s found that most instances of drink spiking come when a drink is left unattended. 

“If you put your drink down, it’s no longer yours,” Rader said.

While prevention is key, having an exit plan in the case of an emergency is just as imperative. According to Rader, ordering an “angel shot” will let the bartender know that you are uncomfortable and need assistance. This code word is known unanimously by bar staff around the country, making it a must-know for a night out in Auburn and beyond. 

This story was featured in our most recent print edition, in stands and online now.

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