On the eve of senior psychology major Karishma Raghuwanshi’s 21st birthday, she enjoyed a late dinner with close friends at Burgers and Brew. As they lounged and ate, Raghuwanshi eagerly waited for the clock to strike midnight so she could finally order her first drink.
At midnight the bartender treated Raghuwanshi to a celebratory birthday drink, and her exploration of the Davis bar and nightlife scene began.
“After dinner we went to Café Bernardo for Wikis, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen and Little Prague,” Raghuwanshi said. “It was really crazy and fun.”
Turning 21 is a big deal. After years of waiting, a whole new world of convenience and nightlife is accessible. It’s a rite of passage that allows one to finally go to the store to fill their basket with the alcohol of their choice, order a drink at dinner and go to the bars.
What is one suppose to do on their 21st birthday in Davis? Go on a bar crawl, of course. A bar or pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple bars or pubs in a single night.
“You have to go to all of the bars,” Raghuwanshi said. “The Davis Beer Shoppe and Froggy’s are good previews before the bars because they’re really chill and laid-back compared to other places that have a lot of dancing.”
The bars in Davis vary from “laid-back dive bars” to bars that transform into night clubs complete with professional sound systems, lighting effects and a variety of DJs.
For the birthday person there is an endless amount of drinks to choose from, and many of the bars have signature drinks.
“Froggy’s Right Hook, Bruce’s Special at Little Prague, mojitos at Bistro 33 and Scooby Snacks at Sophia’s are all really good,” Raghuwanshi said. “If you want to hardcore pre-game, Wikis from Café Bernardo are a must.”
If a laid-back environment is desired, Sophia’s dim-lit bar, complete with an outdoor patio, is a good place to start a 21st birthday.
“It’s a great place to hang out because you can be here when there are five people or 200 and either way you can still find a private area,” Sophia’s owner and booking manager Kevin Wan said.
Sophia’s offers a free cover charge for the birthday person, and they have a “shot wheel” that the birthday person can spin to receive a free drink, provided that someone in their group buys a drink.
Wan also recommended trying the “Thai Breaker.”
“It’s a good drink to start off your night because it has six types of rum and it’s our strongest drink,” Wan said.
Sophia’s offers a “chill” lounge-like vibe, complete with wicker furniture and a fish tank, that’s perfect for starting any bar crawl.
After a relaxing start, no birthday is complete without a little dancing. KetMoRee offers a club-like experience for birthday celebrators.
“We have the largest dance floor in Davis,” KetMoRee bar manager Sandeep Dahal said. “On someone’s birthday the bartenders are allowed to make the guest a strong shooter, we stamp them on the forehead on their way in and we try to make them feel special.”
KetMoRee’s signature drink is the “Full Moon Party Bowl,” which is a 60 oz. martini glass full of different rums and juices, including fresh watermelon juice that’s juiced in-house, Dahal said.
“It’s best enjoyed with a friend or two,” Dahal said. “It’s inspired by the Full Moon Festival in Thailand where people bring alcohol to the festival and put it in steel drums to share.”
KetMoRee offers a daily happy hour that is from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m.
“You don’t have to go out of Davis for the club feel,” Dahal said. “It’s definitely a stop you have to make on your tour of the bars.”
Another stop on a 21st birthday bar crawl is Tres Hermanas. With an extensive tequila selection and festive Mexican décor, Tres Hermanas has a fun, lively atmosphere.
“It’s a huge compliment when people come here on their 21st, but it’s also a responsibility because we don’t want to over-serve someone,” said Tres Hermanas owner Sergio Saenz.
Birthday guests are welcomed with a forehead stamp and specialty drinks. Women receive a drink that’s made with Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa and is topped off with whipped cream, which is then drank without using their hands.
“Loaded Coronas” are one of Tres Hermanas’ specialty drinks, which is a Corona beer with a squeeze of lime and topped off with tequila, Saenz said.
“It’s a very social place. Everyone hangs out with each other inside and on the patio,” Saenz said. “We have the best dance floor in town, really good bartenders and fun, respectful bouncers.”
No matter what someone does on their 21st birthday, Raghuwanshi, Saenz and Wan agreed that a bar crawl is a must.
“Have a good time, but don’t overdue it,” Saenz said. “You’re only 21 once. After that, birthdays don’t really matter, so you want to remember it.”
CASEY SPECHT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.