Spiked drinks are extremely dangerous. Women who have fallen victim to it often share similar horrifying experiences: they ordered a drink at a bar, blacked out, and woke up sick and numb, or worse.
Luckily, some establishments understand the implications that something like this might have on a person’s entire life and take extra steps to prevent it.
A few days ago, Reddit user xXSlimi_Gacha009 posted a question to the platform, asking, “Bartenders of Reddit, what was the weirdest/craziest thing you have overheard while making someone’s drink?” Their post immediately went viral, receiving plenty of insightful answers. But one stood out in particular.
Even though they were not working behind the bar, Pinkyfitts shared a story from a time they were really impressed by the way the staff handled a guy putting something in a girl’s drink.
Image credits: cottonbro (not the actual photo)
This was the only time Pinkyfitts has been in a bar or restaurant when someone reported a drink being spiked (that they know of). “The bar is a very old bar in New Orleans, it’s a music venue/bar,” the Reddit user told Bored Panda. “It’s loud and hot. It has a ticket entrance, and has some pretty good bands. It’s well known, called Tipitina’s. I have been going there since the late 1980s, so already had an impression of the place. Typical non-French Quarter music venue/bar, more local than touristy. It’s not fancy, but has great music and is usually crowded.”
This particular evening took place in 2007 or 2008, not long after Hurricane Katrina. Whether such actions were routine for them or not, Pinkyfitts doesn’t know, it only happened once when he was there.
“The request to discard drinks with free replacements applied to women only,” Pikyfitts said. “There was no discussion of that but it seemed assumed that they were the ones at risk. I don’t remember any complaints, but I was just a guy in the bar, not working there.”
“Roofies or date rape drugs seemed to be a topic in the news at the time. My impression, having no other reference point, was that this was like any other food/drink business when their product is contaminated. They recall and replace it. You hear about massive recalls of beef or produce, or whatnot. It seemed like that.”
Pinkyfitts recalls no complaints and even some cheering and light applause at the time the manager made the announcement.
“The bar did not get less crowded, but then there was a charge to get in, and it was clear the band was going to restart, so that may have played a big role.”
“I could not tell which woman’s drink was involved, or which man was suspect as I didn’t see who the witness pointed at,” Pinkyfitts explained. “I don’t know if the police were called or a confrontation with the involved people, but that could have easily been out on the sidewalk.”
After a pause, the band restarted and that was that.
The awesome thing is that there are many people in the hospitality industry that care. Kate Gerwin’s 2016 initiative at Bismarck, N.D., bar Lüft is an excellent example of this. “Bismarck has a really big drink-drugging problem,” Gerwin told Liquor.com. Turns out, the community had been dealing with numerous cases of drug-facilitated sexual assault.
In an attempt to put an end to this, Gerwin’s team decided to place a “Friends”-themed sign in the bathroom, instructing patrons to ask for Rachel at the bar if they were feeling uncomfortable or found themselves in danger. The idea was inspired by Bartenders Against Sexual Assault, a community organization formed to help protect the industry and its patrons from date rape and other related crimes using resources and education.
But even small, individual acts can make a huge difference. For example, if a bartender knows the symptoms of date rape drugs (feeling drunk despite having little or no alcohol, feeling confused or disoriented, being unable to remember simple things, etc), they can do something about it.
“Make an excuse to take the drink away from the guest—’Oops, looks like you’ve got a little fruit fly in there; let me make you another one’—and set it aside in case it needs to be tested later,” Jenn Tosatto, the bar manager at Mission Taco Joint in Kansas City, Mo., said. “That way, [you’ll have] time to investigate, and if it was truly nothing, no harm, no foul. But if it was something, the drink is out of their hands.”
Date rape is never the victim’s fault but many of them feel guilty or ashamed. That guilt can prevent them from seeking medical care or reaching out for support, so it’s really, really important to be there for them.