During one of my first nights at Tinkers, I was sipping on some flat beer when a friend offered me a sip of her cranberry and vodka. Compared to the fermented hops sitting in my plastic cup, this drink was delicious. I finished my beer and ordered a vodka cranberry. Someone standing next to me overheard my drink order and said, “What, are you on your period?”
After I double checked that my penis had not collapsed inward and had started to secrete blood, I realized he was insulting my masculinity because I ordered a cocktail.
This surprised me, because American pop culture is rife with manly men drinking cocktails while having sex with attractive women. In the very first scene of Mad Men, Don Draper orders an Old Fashioned and proceeds to copulate with everyone but his wife. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski can’t afford to replace his rug, but he finds room in his budget to drink copious amounts of White Russians and time to screw Maude, the artist. James Bond literally created his own cocktail – the vesper martini (this first appears in the 1953 novel Casino Royale, and appears again in the Daniel Craig movie). James Bond has also gotten so much ass that they created a Wikipedia page to detailing and analyzing his sexual encounters (seriously, go look up “Bond Girl” on Wikipedia).
Some people might argue that there are different degrees of “girly drinks,” and that a drink like a whiskey sour is not the same as, say, a vodka cranberry. But a whiskey sour is whiskey with lemon juice and sugar, while a vodka cranberry is vodka with cranberry juice. Lemons and cranberries are both fruit, and whiskey and vodka are both liquors. What’s the bright line between drinking a classy mixed drink and sipping on a girly cocktail?
A bartender at Tinkers once told me that people who order cocktails are mostly women. A waitress at Beer Hall said that the overwhelming majority of the people who drink at Beer Hall (which, in case you didn’t know, only serves beer) are men. I’ve noticed this trend in my family as well. My dad drinks Bud Light. My mom drinks margaritas.
I’m not trying to argue that the stereotype that men drink beer and women drink fruity drinks is false – it’s definitely based on some truth. However, just because women enjoy cocktails doesn’t mean that I, a heterosexual cisgender male, can’t as well.
There’s a drink called a “manmosa” for when you’re out to brunch with your friends on a Sunday and you want to drink alcohol, but, of course, you’re not gay and how dare anyone entertains the notion you’re attracted to the same sex. The manmosa consists of four ounces of orange juice, one ounce of vodka, and four ounces of Blue Moon. As delicious as it may sound, two issues come to mind. 1. That’s a screwdriver with beer, not a variation of a mimosa. 2. If you’re too insecure about your masculinity to order a mimosa, ordering a mixed drink with the word “man” in it won’t reaffirm your machoness.
One reason why men seem to avoid mixed drinks is the name. Usually, heterosexual men avoid any “cock” besides their own, and cocktails seem to be no exception. And, as everyone knows, slurping on fruity drinks that has a vaguely phallic name is a gateway to sticking a penis in your mouth.
Beer is popular among men is that drinking beer is a physical challenge. Unlike a scrumptious mojito, beer tastes bad enough that drinking five cans is an accomplishment and it has just enough alcohol to reward you with a nice buzz. This idea that each beer is a small triumph of the human spirit is echoed through competitions like beer pong, beer ball, and flip cup.
Or maybe men drink beer because beer represents their father. Growing up in a broken household, the man sees his father, sitting on the couch, gut exposed, gulping down his beer. He vows that one day he’ll provide for his family, play catch with his son, be a better dad. He comes to college, goes to a party, and spies a can of Bud Light sitting on the counter. He sees his father in that beer – he has to kill it. Taking the can like he takes his fate – into his own hands – he rips the tab open. The carbonated hop brew hits his lips. He tilts his head back and starts chugging, not stopping until the can is empty. Victorious, he crushes the can in his fist. He has usurped his father. The cycle is complete.
This Freudian interpretation of alcohol and how booze helps men fulfill their Oedipal complex also explains why men hate cocktails. It’s pretty hard to symbolically destroy your father with an appletini.
All I’m trying to say is when you’re vomiting in the middle of the Fordham Prep field, it’s nice to taste the orange juice from your screwdriver instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon.