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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Column: 21

Ask people about their 21st birthday and their answers will run the gamut from tame to memorable to flat-out rambunctious.

Kate Devine, a senior animal science major, describes her birthday as a marathon that tested stamina, inhibition and courage. 

“The first leg, a filling battle called power hour, began at 11 p.m.,” Devine recalls. “It was followed by a string of large bouncers stamping my face with symbols that would inevitably not be properly scrubbed off prior to my 8 a.m. class. Each stamp was a ticket for a terribly tasting concoction.”

Two weeks ago I celebrated a mellower 21st birthday, though I by all means took advantage of my new legality. Friends and I participated in the typical Davis bar crawl, where I enjoyed free drinks at Sophia’s and Tacos and Beer.

Senior psychology major Nicole Storrow also spent her 21st here in Davis, which is common for many UCD students especially if your birthday falls on a week day.

“We went Tuesday at midnight,” Storrow said. “As someone who doesn’t go out and party that much, it was weird to be out on a Tuesday night because Davis was pretty empty.”

Like Storrow, junior history major Kyle Short celebrated his birthday on a weekday. His 21st fell on the wilder end of the spectrum.

“It didn’t matter that it was a Monday night; it was still time to go to the bars at midnight after the necessary preparation,” Short said. “When we returned home after the night of festivities, instead of getting out of the car, I decided to fall out, cut my knee and make my bed on a lawn. My roommate and I finally arrive back at my apartment only for me to begin vomiting in a parking lot. Finally getting inside I collapse on the love seat and pass out again.”

Turning 21 can devour a hefty chunk of your bank account, as my disgruntled dad has discovered. In the past two weeks he has tracked my bank statements to purchases of honey wine at Ethiopian restaurants, shots of ouzo at Greek eateries and the heavily alcoholic wicky wacky woo’s at Café Bernardo. Startlingly, some cocktails can be just as expensive as an entire dinner out.

If one good thing came of dropping large sums of cash here and there, I can now speak with authority to my fellow Aggies about the perks of where to go in Davis. So without further ado, here are my picks.

Sophia’s. Sophia’s lets you spin a wheel on your birthday. I landed on the lemon drop, a blissful union of chilled liquor with lemonade, tasting nearly the same as the actual candy form of lemon drop. What I love about Sophia’s is that there are not only multiple rooms, but a wooden patio deck where bands often perform. The dim lighting adds a level of mystique to the ambiance, while the aquarium at once provides a pretty view and a source of entertainment (a few drinks in, I found myself naming the fish and taking in their antics as if I were watching an aquatic soap opera).

Uncle Vito’s. By about midnight, Uncle Vito’s gets hopping. You’ll see lines coiling down the block and around the corner. The venue offers communal space at the bar as well as booths for groups of four to six people. Most noteworthy about Vito’s, however, is the fact that their dance floor is visible to passers-by strolling the streets of Davis. They also re-designed their menu so that a slice of pesto tomato pizza (my personal favorite, perfect for satisfying late-night munchies) costs only three dollars. The big-screen TV screening music videos above the dance floor makes it so that if you need a little help with your moves, you can always look up to J. Lo for inspiration.

Café Bernardo. They have the “wicky wacky woo” known to some people as a blackout in a cup. I like the color of the wicky; it’s pink. Bacardi 151 sits at the top, followed by a mixture of rum, tequila, vodka, gin, triple sec, amaretto, orange juice, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. My friends and I have made a tradition of going to wicky Wednesdays before the farmer’s market, where you can get a burger and a wicky for 10 dollars.

Twenty-one isn’t just an excuse to get legally shit-faced. Rather, it’s a ticket to social events. Davis is only one small dot on the map when you consider all the other places out there that offer nightlife. Just this past weekend, for instance, I got to enjoy my legality in one of the best cities in the U.S.: San Francisco.

Throughout my evening in the Castro, I met quite the medley of people, including a gay couple from England who were visiting SF as one of three American stops on their “holiday.” The two had met off a British dating site, been together for two years, and were running off three hours of sleep every night as they pranced about on their American escapades. Also that night I met an exuberant So-Cal gay who had just moved to SF. He bought me a shot of tequila, expressed his indignation for So-Cal haters, and lamented his lack of dating prospects.

In short, some of my more memorable 21 moments have occurred on nights separate from my birthday. So while I did snicker when my mom suggested I stay in and play board games for my 21st birthday, you really shouldn’t feel pressure to make your 21st anything crazy. You’ll have 60 years to fill with exciting weekend adventures now that you’re legal.

ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at estephanides@ucdavis.edu.

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