The bar is mostly empty. Seventies rock fills the silence, save for the sounds of two older men in the corner tapping their feet with drunken approval. They spot the “Birthday Princess” sash draped around my shoulder, and, without hesitation, let whoops and cheers spill out of their mouths. My friends – too sober to appreciate this gesture – turn their backs towards the counter. I – too drunk to not acknowledge these gentlemen (who I would like to underscore were drinking at a college bar on a Tuesday) – smugly nod back and give them a two-finger salute. The more clear-headed members of my party pull me back, and ask the question every college student dreams of hearing, “What drink do you want me to buy you?”
And so began for me the tradition of the 21st birthday bar crawl, in which friends and strangers commonly buy you drink after drink and excitedly wait for you to become a babbling, incoherent mess, signaling to them that their work is done. I started out at Ted’s Restaurant and Bar and was immediately outfitted in a “I had my first Beaver at Ted’s on my 21st Birthday” t-shirt that had a strange orange stain on the front. Now, for the sake of honesty, I will say that the Blue Razz Purple Beaver I was about to drink was not my first alcoholic beverage of the day. At 11 a.m., my parents visited and took me out for mimosas. Although I did not pay for my drink in the classic sense of the word, I did have to pose for several “Of course you can see my ID!” pictures that, god willing, will not be posted on Facebook. An hour later, my friend handed me a strange concoction of pineapple vodka and lemonade mixed in a Dunkin Donuts cup, which tasted like a Truly that had come out of one of those dining hall juice dispensers.
A few hours later at Ted’s, I was face to face with the aforementioned purple beaver. It had more of a black cherry taste than blue raspberry, was not too sweet and not too strong either, though my sober friends who tried it did not agree with my latter assessment. Other reviews – documented in a video taken at the scene – included, “tastes like fruit punch,” “this is my favorite Beaver” and “4 out of 12.”
After downing the Beaver and an order of mac and cheese, we headed to Huskies Tavern. Sex on the beach was first up — tropical, fruity and sweet, it was a drink that would satisfy my sugar craving. My glittery hat and sash began to draw attention and happy drunk strangers who were surely reminiscing about their own 21st birthdays started to buy my friends and I drinks. The first patron, a 26-year-old man, bought us Irish breakfast shots. I had never heard of such a drink and was filled with a mixture of curiosity, intrigue and, of course, alcohol. Irish breakfast shots consist of – for those who don’t know – Jameson and butterscotch schnapps, with a sip of orange juice immediately following. I clinked glasses with the strange man who had just purchased my drink and swallowed something that basically tasted like an alcoholic creamsicle – I highly recommend it.
Next up, another stranger bought me my personal favorite: a green tea shot. Green tea shots are a fabulous combination of Irish Whiskey, peach schnapps, sour mix and lemonade; at Huskies, you can also get a Dog Bowl version that is quite good. A young, college-aged girl – who I inevitably exchanged Instagram handles and participated in a back and forth of “No, you’re so pretty I literally love you”’s with – bought me a shot of Kendall Jenner’s tequila, “818,” which was actually pretty smooth.
I believe the night ended with a vodka cranberry, but I’m a lightweight, so that’s where our story stops. Twenty first birthdays are truly magical events. They are the perfect combination of college students’ love of alcohol, friends and not having to pay for things. Your friends watch you regress into the most absurd, quotable version of yourself, and you get to watch it the next day on video. As the Ubers arrive and my night at Huskies comes to a close, the dawn awaits the next young person prepared to answer the call of duty.