Turning 21 is the final hurdle to becoming a full-on adult. You were already old enough to drive, vote, buy cigarettes, hold down a job and attend college. But now, finally, you're old enough to drink. Legally. As a consequence, your 21st birthday is a big date to celebrate. Just don't be fooled into thinking you're too old for a birthday cake. You're still entitled to one, and it can be as funny, sophisticated or childish as you want.
Since, for many, buying that first drink is the crowning glory of the 21st birthday, it's only fitting to mention alcohol-themed birthday cakes. They can be as uncomplicated as a chocolate sheet cake decorated with the words, "Let's Get Wasted!" to as over-the-top as a giant cake shaped like a mug of beer bubbling over with butter-cream foam. Use a Barbie or Ken doll, either in the throes of imbibing or suffering from overindulgence, to decorate the cake. Make individual cakes shaped like liquor bottles in the brand of your choice. Or make a cake that looks like a martini or margarita, nestled in a real glass.
To stick with the alcohol theme, don't even make your 21st birthday cake an actual cake. Affix birthday candles to the tops of bottles of beer; arrange the beer bottles into the shape of sheet cake; and light the candles. Or create a tiered "cake" by using beer bottles as the bottom layer and graduating to mini bottles at the top, separating each layer with a plate, cutting board or other type of stabilizer. You can also create a tier of shots by arranging filled shot glasses on a tiered cake plate.
Not everyone is interested in toasting their 21st birthday, and that's OK, too. A 21st birthday cake is also an opportunity to express the things you enjoy in life. A golf enthusiast may enjoy a cake shaped like the best hole on her favorite golf course. A traveler might appreciate a cake shaped like a suitcase, decorated with fondant travel stickers. Someone knee-deep in college studies might like a cake that looks like a haphazard stack of books. Take a personal element from your life -- or the life of the one celebrating his birthday, if you're making the cake for someone else -- and make it edible.
A 21st birthday celebration is also a chance to be as decadent as you wish. Bakers come up with polished creations, and their cakes are appropriate for both guys and dolls. A man might want a cake that looks like chrome, or solid black embellished with a gold, edible cuff link. A lady might want something outrageously feminine, like a cake in which each layer is covered in a different-patterned fondant, or a cake that looks like a satin pillow topped with an edible slipper. For your 21st, you're entitled to go all out.