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Discourse's hybrid-bar concept has a new name just in time for launch

A few of the concoctions that may end up on Agency's cocktail menu.
A few of the concoctions that may end up on Agency's cocktail menu.

A lot goes into launching a new venture: design work, construction, endless meetings and paperwork galore, to name a few. Any one of those things can trip you up along the way, which is exactly what happened to our friends at Discourse as they prepared to open Milwaukee's first hybrid cocktail bar.

Essentially, the name they originally chose and spread across social media, "Equal Parts," was taken — trademarked by a cocktail company in Minnesota.

With the first night of service looming, Discourse partner/CEO Ryan Castelaz and the rest of the team gathered for a tough talk. "This was an extremely difficult decision for us," he said, "but we decided that it was ... best for the company to just nip it in the bud and change [the name] now."

Goodbye, Equal Parts.

Hello, Agency.

"It's because agency speaks so directly to the core of what we are trying to do," Castelaz explained. "I want people within a second of hearing the name to be able to understand, like, 'Oh, you're giving drinkers back agency. You're giving that choice back to people.

"So that's really how we came to the name Agency — reinstilling this choice with people. And it also just feels kind of dark and cool and mysterious and like something you want to be a part of. ... 'I'm going to the Agency.' You feel cool, and I love names that make you feel cool."

Castelaz relayed all of this to our Salam Fatayer as part of next week's episode of Uniquely Milwaukee, which will dive into Dry January by exploring Agency and the rapidly shifting attitude toward drinking among the city's younger set. You can hear more of her interview with Castelaz in the full episode when it drops next Tuesday right here on the website or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you want to check out Agency for yourself, it opens tonight (Jan. 5) in Discourse's downtown location, 1020 N. Broadway, with regular hours from 6 p.m. until late every Friday through Sunday.