Sitting in Bars With Cake isn't just a movie — it's also a fun activity with a recipe guaranteed to make a night out with friends even sweeter.
In the summer of 2012, Audrey Shulman baked a cake and took it to a bar to celebrate her best friend's birthday. The cake was such a hit — not only with her friend group but also with all the guys at the bar — that she officially named it "cakebarring," a.k.a. the act of taking a cake to a bar to meet guys. Like something out of a real-life rom-com, Shulman continued to go cakebarring once a week for an entire year in Los Angeles with the goal of getting a boyfriend. And while she didn't meet the love of her life that way, it still was life-changing — and now, the book she wrote about her experience has been made into a movie of the same name (out Friday, Sept. 8 on Amazon Prime Video).
Saeed Adyani/Prime Video Odessa A’zion and Yara Shahidi in 'Sitting in Bars With Cake'
Starring Yara Shahidi as Jane, a shy but extremely talented baker, the movie brings cakebarring to life onscreen when Jane's extrovert best friend Corinne (Odessa A'zion) convinces her to commit to a year of the culinary experiment with the goal of meeting guys, as well as developing confidence (check out an exclusive clip above). But when Corinne receives a life-altering diagnosis, the pair face a challenge unlike anything they've experienced before, resulting in a moving celebration of female friendship, forging identity, and finding joy in the most unexpected places.
As a single woman living in Los Angeles, I related to Shulman's story on a deep level. So why not give cakebarring a try in real life? I enlisted four of my single friends for my research on a recent Friday night, and armed with two themed cakes, we hit up bars featured in the movie: the Normandie Club and the Frolic Room. Before the night began, my expectations were admittedly pretty high. Even if nothing romantic came out of this, I was still having a night out with my best friends and eating delicious cake. That's already a win. Anything on top of that would just be ... well, icing on the cake.
We arrived at the first bar by 9 p.m., and the Normandie Club bouncers were the first enthusiastic recipients of slices of the four-layer marble cake with pink ombre buttercream. Soon, we were making friends with everyone at the bar, because who turns down free cake?! And the cake was just the icebreaker, as conversations that started by asking why we brought it (no, it wasn't anyone's birthday) quickly went deeper, talking about careers and bonding over shared TV show obsessions. A group of guys celebrating a bachelor party were especially interested in our night of cakebarring, and they wanted to give us a preview of what the bride and groom would look like feeding each other cake at the reception. By 10:58 p.m., only crumbs and smears of pink frosting were left, so it was time to move on to the next bar. But not before one of my friend's exchanged numbers with one of the single groomsmen.
As we relocated to the Frolic Room, we immediately cut into the second cake, a six-layer double chocolate masterpiece. The vibes were much different in this classic Hollywood dive bar, so it took longer for people to warm up to the idea of getting a slice despite the late hour and varying levels of drunkenness. But my friends and I were on a mission, and pretty soon the entire bar was enjoying that cake — we even got a rousing chant of "Cake! Cake! Cake!" going at one point. I even traded a slice in exchange for queuing up a song on the jukebox. Who knew cake could be such a versatile baked good?
After being asked whose birthday we were celebrating for the 49th time, we finally just leaned into the assumption and pretended it was our friend's 21st birthday. The whole bar proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday" to her in a moment that felt like it was ripped straight out of the movie — but her real wish came true 45 minutes later when she made out in the corner with a guy she had just met. Cakebarring was officially a smashing success!
Did any of the guys we exchanged numbers with (or, in another case, even kissed) turn into lasting relationships? Unfortunately not. But this night was still absolutely one we'll remember for the rest of our lives. And ultimately, that was always the real goal.
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