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Real Milwaukee men can enjoy pink, umbrella-laden drinks.

Are you man enough for frou-frou drinks?

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Supposedly, the frou-frou drink was created to appeal mainly to women, relative newcomers to the public consumption of cocktails in the 20th century. Drinks with colorful liqueurs and fruity flavors are the basic foundation of the frou-frou.

Although ultimately subjective, the category tends to include drinks such as the mojito, screaming orgasm and anything with "tini" at the end of its name, as well as all frozen drinks like daiquiris and certainly any drink served with an umbrella.

"My current favorite is the Apartment 137 at Distil – like a glass full of melted dreamsicles," says Paul Piaskoski, CBS 58 news anchor.

Steve Kabelowsky, a strategist for an area marketing firm and OnMilwaukee.com blogger, is also a proud male imbiber of frou-frou drinks.

"I enjoy the occasional sex on the beach and sangria, but I order vodka cranberry all the time. I get looks sometimes, but never comments to my face. Those probably happen behind my back," says Kabelowsky.

In addition to sex on the beach, Kabelowsky has an appreciation for the theater, art, antiques, history and design and can also speak to the virtues of an NFL 3-4 defense and break down college hoops match-ups.

"I understand the differences with where I am in the stereotypical spectrum here. I'm comfortable with who I am," says Kabelowsky.

It would seem that men are finally becoming men, less afraid to be publicly outed for lots of reasons. While social stigmas remain for a host of things, liking romantic comedies and listening to and enjoying Tori Amos, to name a few, being called out at the bar for enjoying the sweeter side of the finer things in life can still be challenging.

"I was at dinner with a bunch of people that I was on the road with and ordered a sangria. Someone piped up, saying I should order a real drink. I just looked at him," says David Webb, a corporate airline pilot and self-described "lover of the sweeter drinks."

Etymology of the word "frou-frou" to designate drinks traditionally, if not stereotypically, appealing to women doesn't seem very straightforward at first. It's a French word used to indicate the noise made by a dress as someone is walking. (But perhaps this only makes sense in French; this author has a tough time imagining this sound. Maybe primary research is in order? Gather your skirts and digital voice recorders.)

Frou-frou also means the ornamentation on women's clothing, and this is probably where its use arises in designating a drink light or frilly, overly feminine if not downright girlie – and in questioning the masculinity of a fella as he moves his drink umbrella so his mustachioed lips can fully grasp his fruity cocktail glass.

"I never feel silly. I'm comfortable in my masculinity, the same way I feel about wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness," says Kabelowsky, who enjoys the orange dreamsicle (also called a creamsicle, any kind of drink made with orange liqueur or Absolut orange).

"I love those. But I also like Beam and Cokes, and the occasional shot or two. I guess those would be considered more 'manly.' I'd never consider myself a metrosexual, and I'm not a homosexual, not that – here's a 'Seinfeld' reference – there's anything wrong with that," he says.

Matters of taste are always shaped by social forces; therefore, it's understandable that when personal preferences are deemed feminine in a homophobic society that people will get cagey. When interviewed, a lot of men make it clear that they're heterosexual frou-frou drinkers, but maintain that they're comfortable with how their drink preferences intersect their sexuality.

"I like pina coladas. I don't like sports, but I like women," says Mike Becher, a 47-year-old retail industry worker.

Becher was on vacation in Mexico when he had his first pina colada, and he prefers them served in a coconut.

"I am 45 years-old and as straight as they come. I fell in love with sangria at a Brazilian bar / restaurant just outside of Sarasota, Fla.," says Webb.

Webb enjoys the "island lifestyle"; this is when he can wear his Tommy Bahamas shirt and shorts and ride with the top down on a convertible. Drinking certain frou-frou drinks seems right in line with this way of life.

Other lifestyle demands often accompany changes in drink preferences – like those associated with age.

"I am a total sweet drink junkie. It wasn't always that way, but the older you get, the harder it gets – know what I mean? I'm 45, and at this point, beer makes me feel bloated and sleepy, and hard liquor has a tendency to wipe out the whole next day," says Piaskoski.

Piaskoski has the benefit of being married to a shot-and-a-beer kind of girl. He says this saves him from some potential embarrassment because people often assume the pink drink he ordered is for her.

But that's in public. Piaskoski says his "pink drink preference is well established amongst those who know me" and that he hasn't lost any friends or family over it, not that he'd care too much.

"I still pee standing up, park myself in front of the TV every Sunday for Packers games and served in the military, so I think I still have my man card. I just occasionally use it as a coaster for my cosmo," says Piaskoski.

Talkbacks

mkeforlife | Feb. 9, 2012 at 10:39 a.m. (report)

The notion that sangria is a frou-frou drink is misplaced. Real sangria has fruit but is not as sweet as the garbage that most places serve around here. When made right, it is divine and strong. As to the other drinks, only men with small units are afraid to drink whatever, whenver they want.

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