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The Agency to choose: Starting Dry January in a hybrid bar

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In Wisconsin, our drinking habits have always been a source of curiosity — primarily because of how much more alcohol the state consumes compared to the rest of the country. But even in a place where bars outnumber grocery stores three to one, those habits have evolved to be more inclusive of those who put aside the alcohol.

Non-alcoholic consumers (like me) now have a multitude of options. Gone are the days of simply ordering a club soda at the bar. Even White Claw — a brand that gained internet fame when comedian Trevor Wallace coined the phrase "Ain't no laws when you're drinking Claws" — has ventured into the N/A realm.

That might cover you at home or small gatherings of friends and family. But what about those bars, taverns and other watering holes that so vastly outnumber groceries? When it comes to progress, our social spaces haven’t adapted at the same pace that beverage makers have. In a city like Milwaukee, it’s difficult to have a satisfying night out without drinking, especially when you have friends who do.

The folks behind Discourse Coffee are trying to change that. On the first weekend of Dry January, they opened Milwaukee’s first hybrid bar: Agency.

Like a lot of workplaces, Radio Milwaukee has a mix of drinkers and non-drinkers. So, for Agency’s opening night last Friday, a group of us ventured to 1020 N. Broadway and were immediately greeted by lively chatter intermingled with the clinking of glasses. The enticing aroma of spirits and rhythms of background music set the tone for a night of shared moments and vibrant social connections.

In this episode, you’ll hear all about our experience, as well as an interview with Discourse partner and CEO Ryan Castelaz, who shares the story of how Milwaukee’s first hybrid bar put choice on the table.

Audio Storyteller | Radio Milwaukee