November 9, 2023

The Tale of the Marvelous “Gay Little Monkey Latte” at Green Dragon

Print More

After plenty of all-nighters, I walked up to the ordering window in Green Dragon Cafe, located on the basement level of Sibley Hall, craving a drink with caffeine and warmth. Excitedly, I read over the menu board, wanting to get something new. I ended up trying a mysterious new drink called  the “gay little monkey latte.” I have no regrets. 

This “mystery” drink was created by AAP student and Green Dragon barista Hamza Ayad ‘26. Although Ayad emphasized that the ingredients would not be publicly known until the drink was no longer being offered, I found the creative recipe behind the drink oddly exciting. The concept is equally unique, fun and empowering. Personally, I enjoy a “secret menu.” Coming from California, food joints like “in-n-out” have created an appreciation and interest in “exclusive” creations. 

Additionally, the monkey drawn on the menu is not random, contrary to what I thought. The design for the menu listing of this drink was inspired by a podcast that Ayad enjoys, Emergency Intercom. The podcast referenced a meme from 2010 named “Gay Little Monkey Boy At Apple Store,” titled such because people observed that the boy was standing in a stereotypically “gay” stance. 

Some might view a drink like this as funny or unnecessary. Sure, it’s not something that will change people’s lives. Instead, embracing creativity and even playing off of stereotypes plays into a more critical concept: creating a safe space for students, particularly queer students. Seeing a drink named such in a public cafe on campus sends a message to students: you can be creative and do whatever you want. This is a safe space. Nothing is too “out of the ordinary.” The power is in the presentation and advertising. 

However, this makes all the difference. Such blends in perfectly with the vibes Green Dragon emits: creative and cozy, with funny drinks advertised that are unnatural. It’s just for laughs, such as the “Ozempic smoothie.” Ironically, I asked if the “gay little monkey latte” was real at first. Sometimes, when I’m not having the best day, little things that make me laugh amidst the intimidating environment of an elite institution like Cornell can make all the difference. 

With a smile, Ayad walked over to my table and handed me the drink, telling me that I was the first person to order the drink and that my order came with a personal delivery. The sleeve had “gay little monkey latte” written in cursive. Ayad was unaware that I was the dining editor at the Sun during this interaction. I felt so warm and happy to have a fun and new experience at a cafe on campus. 

Upon receiving the drink, I felt joyful. The excitement of trying something new. All I knew was that it was some kind of oat milk latte. Given that it’s a latte, it has espresso shots and oat milk steamed and blended. I confirmed the oat milk because that’s my milk of choice for personal and medical reasons. A friend pointed out that oat milk is the “gayest milk,” so it’s only fitting. 

I’m aware that there is no such thing as “gay milk.” I’m referring to how certain foods mean different things to different groups. Oat milk being “queer” is something you might see often on social media sites and amongst Reddit threads. It’s the concept of taking ownership of stereotypes and humor, finding common ground, and making the room safe for any orientation, identity, or background. 

When it came to the mystery flavors in the drink, I had an epiphany: I do not know coffee as well as I thought I did. I don’t often have flavored espresso drinks, usually opting for unsweetened options. The espresso smell and taste were strong, but so were the sweet, delectable hints dancing amongst my taste buds. 

My first thought was a take on a mocha (which is essentially hot chocolate and a latte in one): chocolate and hazelnut shots. However, another item on the Green Dragon “secret” menu has those ingredients. They offer a drink called “Nutella latte:” a latte with chocolate and hazelnut shots. I’ve ordered that drink before, and it’s one of the few sweet coffee combinations I love now. 

The gay little monkey latte was not the Nutella latte, but the flavors seemed similar. I considered vanilla but then realized the drink tasted like nutty vanilla extract. My theory is such: the gay monkey latte is vanilla and hazelnut flavored. I don’t have any theoretical reasoning for this other than my taste buds, so feel free to visit Green Dragon and order the drink to see for yourself! 

I realize that only some people are in a position to order a drink with unknown flavors and ingredients, possibly due to medical conditions. That’s a huge privilege I have. My only recommendation for this drink is that the allergens are listed when ordering for accessibility.

Other than that, I rate this drink 5/5 stars. Even if future drinks on a “secret” menu aren’t a “mystery,” they’re still worthwhile because creativity is significant. On campus, I scan my world for crucial phrases and pictures related to my interests and identities, helping me realize I’m not alone. Thank you, Hamza, for sharing your creativity at work. I’m honored to have been the first to have a gay little monkey latte: despite the flavors being secret, it’s no secret that the gay little monkey latte is a delightful, tasty and inclusive conversation starter.

Daniela Rojas (she/her), dining editor, is a third-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].