In 2017, I was on Captiva Island with a throng of my high school friends. One of our number was getting married that day, so we were having a rowdy lil’ brunch before the ceremony.
The waitress came, and we went around, ordering combinations of coffee and booze. When she came to my friend Mike, he piped up with almost preternatural confidence.
“I’ll have a MANmosa, please,” he said.
“A what?” the waitress replied.
Mike went on to explain that a MANmosa (I’m writing it with caps because that’s how he said it) is your standard mimosa fortified with an extra shot of vodka. Think mimosa meets screwdriver meets Barstool Sports.
The incident has simmered vividly in my memory not only because it was an absurd way to behave in public but because there has been a consistent thread of masculinity-questioning associated with brunch—and specifically, mimosas—ever since then.
Five years prior, Dallas’ D Magazine investigated the phenomenon of gay men brunching, concluding that the meal had been coded as “gay” because of several appealing factors, chief among them the cocktails. Writer Todd Johnson explained:
At brunch, cocktails are poured into slender flutes and come in a kaleidoscope of colors adorned with fruit, parasols, sparklers, and other ridiculous accessories. At dinner, no gay man would be caught dead ordering such a drink. But at brunch? They let down their guard and indulge their inner divas.
These are inherently threatening optics to anyone who subscribes to toxic masculinity. Hot on their heels, BroBible (remember BroBible?) came down firmly against mixing mimosas and testosterone, damning the drink as “literally the complete opposite end of the spectrum from something manly.” In the years since, Redditors were sent reeling, grasping for answers. The manmosa had actually become a nationwide trend, though formulations varied.
Brunch is inherently gay for the way that it challenges the traditional breakfast/brunch/dinner trinary, queering the very idea of mealtime, but that’s a level of analysis that is not present in any of the discourse. What we’re left with are remnants of this stereotype that still persist to this day. Now, we have dudes on TikTok are challenging each other to make mimosas with the least possible fruit juice in them—some even using Windex sprayers to mist the champage flute.
This past week, The Hollywood Reporter’s Seth Abramovitch celebrated Father’s Day by tweeting “Don’t emasculate your dad with ‘brunch.’” The seasoned entertainment reporter (who is gay) was clearly being ironic while trading on a trope that has embedded itself in the cultural conversation, so at least we’ve achieved some level of meta-awareness. The next step is for the meme to totally dissolve, reaching a level of hack that the whole “is a hot dog a sandwich?” thing has achieved.
Hopefully we’ll reach a similar level of conclusiveness with the Mimosa Question soon, and the MANmosa can be relegated to the heap of strange memories toxic masculinity has left us with.