I think that any color would work well, depending on what looks best for the intended recipient. Of course, as you said, the darker colors would not show the cables very well.
I've noticed that most men's scarves are made with black, grey, blue, or brown. I guess, because these are the more popular shades of outerwear, so the scarf would go well with the ensemble.
But, I think that a bright scarf looks very nice around a man's face. Red is great, but not if the person has a ruddy complexion. Teal or Maroon are nice also.
But, I'm one that loves natural shades....with no dye at all. So, if you used a fisherman's wool or an undyed alpaca or wool, it would look very nice...and manly.
Good luck with your decision!