By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jun 18, 2024 at 11:02 AM

The Great Milwaukee Summer is HERE! Your guide to what you'll be doing, where you'll be drinking, who you'll be hearing and how you'll be getting a sweet tan this summer is on OnMilwaukee. The Great Milwaukee Summer guide is brought to you by Geis Garage Doors and Peoples State Bank

Since its inception, Discourse has been known for its creatively-themed menus, which purposefully challenge customers’ palates and encourage them to explore and embrace immersive experiences and unexpected flavor profiles. But the brand has also become known for creating inclusive environments that are safe and welcoming for all.

“Inclusion is a huge part of our company,” says Discourse Founder Ryan Castelaz, “It’s part of our DNA and it’s what makes us who we are. All we’re trying to bring to the world is love, creativity and passion. We do that through the stories we tell and the experiences we create.”

By the people, for the people

During the month of June (and extending throughout July), the team has gone above and beyond in celebration of Pride Month, bringing guests not only a colorful and diverse selection of drinks but a series of events that celebrate the stories of queer icons and traditions throughout American history that have shaped the definition of queer culture.

Castelaz says it’s been an exercise in empowerment.

“With the exception of myself, everyone on the Drink Innovation Team identifies as queer,” says Castelaz. “So, I stood back and charged them with creating the menu. Enabling people to tell their stories and – even more – to tell the stories that are important to them is important. These aren’t my stories. So, as an owner, I leaned on my team and gave them the freedom to express themselves in a meaningful way. It’s been awesome to hand things over to them and really watch them bloom.”

“This industry is largely run by the queer population,” Castelaz adds. “So, we wanted to be loud about it and really represent, empowering – not only our own staff – but other baristas and industry folks as well. In a city that’s growing and searching for what it’s going to be in the next ten years, it’s vital that everyone is included in the conversation.”

The Gay Agenda

"The Gay Agenda" is the tongue-in-cheek name for Discourse's current experimental menu. Orchestrated largely by Discourse’s Destiny (Des) DeVooght, the offerings will be available through the end of July.

Thematically, the menu is a celebration of seven queer cultural icons and memorable moments from the last 50 years, told through the colors of the rainbow. And, thanks to the varied flavor profiles it showcases, there’s indubitably a drink to please just about anyone.

Choices range from a liquid cannoli showcasing maraschino "caviar", to a nearly bioluminescent pickled blueberry coffee tonic.  But there's also a brilliant yellow affogato made with turmeric and calendula that's finished a la minute by breaking open a white chocolate shell filled with Cinnamon Toast processed coffee concentrate. 

Here's the full selection:

  • A Friend of Dorothy's by Laine Lott:  Pomegranate, Pink Lady apple, cucumber, Gochugaru pickle salad, CO2 ($7.50).
  • The Dragonfly Effect by Alanna Szczech: Thai tea concentrate, Fractional Ra! Peach-Ginger kombucha syrup, carrot and apricot kernel milk, orange blossom saline, mango boba ($8)
  • I know a B**** When I See One by Alex Prevost: Black and white cinnamon toast crunch concentrate, white chocolate, Sweet Tooth Grin spiced calendula ice cream, calendula sugar ($5/$9)
  • Fuori! (OUT!) by Noelie Ronczka: Orange blossom green tea, pistachio orgeat, ricotta whipped cream, Angostura chocolate bitters, cannoli, maraschino cherry caviar ($10)
  • The Blue Star by Destiny Devooght: Pickled blueberry skin infused sous vide coffee, spirulina solution, pickled blueberry juice, house juniper tonic, Jamaican #2 bitters, CO2 ($8)
  • Indigo Velvet by Laine Lott: Espresso, Amarena cherry and vanilla milk, black sesame tahini, dark chocolate, cherry tahini powder ($9.50)
  • Violet Inferno by Usama Abdelsalam: Tropical Coconut Oolong, lemongrass, culantro, ginger, bay, all spice, acid-adjusted orange juice, flora syrup, lilac tincture, Disco Inferno, CO2 ($9/$13)

Want more on the stories behind the drinks? Just ask!

Pride Events

Guests are also invited to attend two special events created as part of Discourse’s Pride Month celebration.

Gay & Flashy: A Latte Art Battle Royale with Bevy MKE
Discourse Radio Milwaukee Cafe, 158 Barclay St.
Thursday, June 20 from 6 to 10 p.m.

This latte art throw-down is meant to celebrate the industry. It will feature five rounds of latte art competition featuring the talents of 32 baristas from across the state. Rounds will include: 8-ounce hearts; 8-ounce rosetta/tulips; an 8-ounce free-pour; cortados; and a surprise round.

Guests are invited to attend wearing their best flashy disco attire. From there, it's all about community, music and free beer, seltzer and cocktails!  There will also be food for purchase from Tots on the Street.

New Gays on the Block: A Big Ole Block Party
Discourse Radio Milwaukee Cafe, 158 Barclay St.
Saturday, June 29 from noon to 6 p.m.

Discourse will be blocking off Barclay between Pittsburgh and Erie Streets to host a Pride Party. There will be live music outside, items to peruse and purchase from dozens of LGBTQ+ makers, and plenty of food from local food trucks. Inside, Discourse will be selling a selection of draft cocktails. The event is open to everyone including those who identify as queer, along with allies, supporters, friends and family.

When the block party ends, guests are invited to stick around at Discourse to experience their new “after hours” concept, The Green Room. 

The Green Room

New at Discourse: The Green Room will be open Thursday through Sunday and will be “the” spot to hang out before or after concerts and musical performances around town.

The mood? A “come as you are” neighborhood tavern that’s open to everyone. The menu? Expertly prepared Discourse drinks (both alcoholic and NA). 

Monday nights will feature service industry specials. Moving forward, the hope is that it will also be a spot that hosts pre-concert and post-concert activities for local artists.

The Green Room hours will be Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. (or as late as demand warrants); Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight and Monday from 6 to 10 p.m. (or as late as demand warrants).

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.