The Best And Worst Starbucks Holiday Drinks

The Best And Worst Starbucks Holiday Drinks


With new flavors and old favorites of Starbucks
holiday drinks all contending for menu space, how do you decide which festive drink to order? We can help with that. Here’s our definitive ranking of Starbucks’
offerings of holiday past, many of which are making a valiant return in 2019. Look, if you like eggnog, that’s your prerogative. It’s festive and a holiday tradition, and
it goes all the way back to medieval times, but sometimes, we think maybe that’s where
it should have stayed. Even if you like eggnog, there’s nothing that
makes Starbucks’ Eggnog Latte that remarkable. All this latte contains is steamed eggnog,
espresso, and nutmeg. That’s it. If you need this boring drink so badly, make
it at home; it doesn’t need to take up space on the holiday drink menu. Give us something new and exciting. Not…hot eggnog. Yep, that’s right. This was a holiday drink that actually existed
at Starbucks. If you don’t remember it, there’s a pretty
good reason for that. It debuted for a whopping four days in the
USA and Canada in 2016, and it was never heard from again. The ingredient combination and bizarre flavor
profile probably didn’t help. Starbucks describes its Fruitcake Frappuccino
as a Hazelnut Crème Frappuccino with dried fruit, cinnamon, whipped cream, and a topping
with a combination of caramel dots and matcha. Um…yum? We don’t think so. Those who were brave enough to taste it described
it as chunky and tasting nothing like actual fruitcake. “Oh, I’m sorry. We thought you enjoyed fruitcake.” Having been released nationwide only in 2018,
the Juniper Latte was quite divisive. With an evergreen aroma, notes of sage, and
juniper syrup infused milk with a pine-citrus sugar topping, the drink came off very earthy. Perhaps too earthy. You may know juniper better as the main flavor
component of gin, and also Pine-Sol, or one of those tree air fresheners you’d put in
your car. For some reason, Starbucks thought this was
the flavor to infuse into syrup and pour into some espresso, because anyone who likes Christmas
trees obviously wants to know what they taste like. Taste testers said the latte tasted medicinal
or woody, with a light juniper flavor that lingered long afterwards. It’s unique for sure…but we don’t want to
drink it. Considering you can now get a flat white on
Starbucks’ regular menu whenever you want, it does take the luster off of its holiday
edition, the Holiday Spice Flat White. Geared more towards caffeine heads than festive
drinkers, the flat white contains two shots of ristretto, or basically more concentrated
espresso shots. It also contains steamed milk and a collection
of holiday spices like nutmeg, ginger, clove, cinnamon, etc. Don’t get us wrong, it’s quite tasty and a
nice pick-me-up in the morning, but it’s also nothing to jingle your bells about. If you like sugar, you’ll love the Toasted
White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks. It’s like candy in a cup, or, with the candied
cranberry sugar on top, maybe it’s more like candy on top of a cup. As tasty as it might be, it does come with
a rather intense calorie and sugar count. As you might expect, it’s delicious. With caramelized white chocolate, you get
the nice, warm toasted flavors associated with curling up by the fire under a big wool
blanket. Plus it adds a depth of flavor to typically
overly sweet white chocolate. The drink is made by pouring espresso over
the white chocolate mocha sauce, then topping it with steamed milk, whipped cream, and candied
sugar. Talk about a drinkable dessert. If the regular Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
wasn’t enough for you, then the Frappuccino version is what the doctor ordered. Made with the same delightful ingredients
of caramelized white chocolate, espresso, milk, and candied cranberry sugar, the Toasted
White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino becomes like a milkshake singing “Rockin’ Around the
Christmas Tree.” And you probably will be dancing around after
taking down this tasty treat. A tall one has 44 grams of sugar, and we all
know you’re just not getting a tall. There’s few people in the world that don’t
love hot chocolate. But what’s better than just plain hot chocolate? Flavored hot chocolate from Starbucks, more
specifically, hot chocolate covered in salted caramel. The salted caramel holiday drinks often come
out in fall alongside king of all seasonal drinks, Pumpkin Spice Latte, but there is
some sense of the holidays in this drink as well, especially when paired with its fellow
holiday hot cocoa brethren. This Starbucks drink is a sugar bomb, what
with four pumps each of toffee nut syrup and mocha sauce, plus a pump of vanilla syrup. What cuts through that sweetness, however,
is the smoked sea salt topping. While you can buy the mix in stores now, you’ll
need to add your own whipped cream and salty caramel topping. What’s better than a creme brûlée and some
caramel? A marriage of a creme brûlée and caramel
with copious amounts of whipped cream. Thus we have the Caramel Brulee Frappuccino,
a serious drinkable dessert and a half. There’s nothing healthy about it, but there’s
something about drinking a drink so decadent around the holidays that just feels right. No one is going to say a Frappuccino is healthy,
but you may not be aware of just how much sugar is in this holiday package. How about 61 grams in a grande? Yeah, you heard that right. Don’t try and fret too much about it, after
all…calories in December don’t count. Vegans and dairy-free folks rejoiced when
Starbucks unveiled the Toffee Almondmilk Hot Chocolate in 2017. While there are plant-based drinks available
and plenty of items on the Starbucks menu that can be made dairy-free with their epic
customization abilities, to have a holiday drink specifically made with a non-dairy milk
is a major win. Nutty and delicious, this hot chocolate has
a great depth of flavor, plus an extra layer with the included mocha sauce. It’s chocolate, almonds, and toffee in liquid
form; what more do you need? Well, other than for it to be a regular menu
item, that is. There may be backlash that this isn’t higher
on the list, because many people are big fans of this spicy caffeinated treat. The Chestnut Praline Latte is a pretty fancy
Starbucks offering, with caramelized chestnuts and spiced praline crumbles making for a holiday
drink inspired by the flavors of a European Christmas. At least that’s what Starbucks research and
development manager Amy Dilger thought when she created it. She said, “The rich, earthy, sweet, roastiness of chestnut
is a perfect foil to espresso. Then we balanced the nutty chestnut flavor
with brown sugar and spice.” It’s that blend of ingredients that gives
this drink a more nuanced and complex flavor profile. You get sweet, then nuttiness, then a touch
of smokey bitterness. It’s a European Christmas wrapped in a grande
cup that also comes iced. No matter which way you enjoy it, it’s going
to be nutty and delightful. Of all of the hot chocolates, this is the
real classic, isn’t it? Peppermint is synonymous with the holiday
season and the Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Starbucks is no exception. Already known for their rich hot chocolate,
this includes a dash of mocha sauce to really round out those flavors. Between the chocolate, the mocha, the peppermint,
and the chocolate sauce drizzle over whipped cream, this is a drink worthy of St. Nick
himself. Not all hot chocolates are created equal. The Peppermint Hot Chocolate is great, and
the Toffee Almond Milk Hot Chocolate is super tasty as well, but the Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate
is just…perfection. It’s the Rudolph of Starbucks’ hot chocolates. In addition to the already rich hot chocolate
base, there’s white chocolate sauce and cinnamon dolce syrup, and the whole thing is topped
with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. It’s seriously like drinking a cookie, one
that we can only hope returns to the holiday menu sometime in the future. Ah gingerbread. Between the men, houses, and cookies, it’s
definitely a flavor that represents a lot of what makes the holiday season smell and
taste so good. This has been a staple of the Starbucks holiday
menu for years. The secret of the Gingerbread Latte is in
its simplicity. It’s steamed milk, espresso, gingerbread syrup,
whipped cream, and ground nutmeg. That’s it. This is where our associations with the holiday
season come into play. You just can’t have it without gingerbread. Also, it’s delicious. That helps. Starbucks loves gingerbread so much, they
even once had their own Gingerbread Cafe Kit so you can make your own Starbucks at home. Out of gingerbread, of course. When you think of the smells of the holiday
season, chances are that traditional mulling spices are going to come to mind. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and all-spice can
make everything smell and taste a bit like the holidays. This includes cold brew. Created by brewing long and slow with cool
water, cold brew coffee has seen a rise in appreciation in the past few years. Starbucks is always looking for trends, and
cold brew was definitely one of them. Better yet, they wanted to create a dedicated
holiday cold brew, and so it came up with the Spiced Sweet Cream Nariño 70 Cold Brew
in 2016. Slow steeped for 20 hours, this cold brew
is then infused with flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and vanilla. It’s then finished with a velvety smooth float
of house-made sweet cream. What makes this cold brew a serious holiday
winner is the subtle flavor of the mulling spices. They don’t overpower the taste of the brew
itself, but only enhance them. It’s holiday flavor that’s not in your face,
but still very delicious. This one isn’t on the 2019 menu, but fingers
crossed for 2020. First making its appearance about a decade
ago, the Caramel Brulee Latte is a long-time love of Starbucks holiday fans. Mimicking the sweet smokiness of a charred
crème brûlée, a custard dessert topped with a crisp sugar topping from France, mixed
with the sweet decadence of caramel, there’s so much to love in this drink. Some people can’t live without it, and there
is a pretty legit duplicate available on the Starbucks secret menu. But if it’s available on your menu for real,
accept no substitutes. Much like its Frappuccino cousin, this latte
is buttery and sweet and creamy. Plus the addition of the crunchy caramel brulee
bits atop a mountain of whipped cream adds texture and even more yum. Having the Peppermint Mocha at the number
one spot may seem like a cheat, especially as you can technically get them all year round. But there’s just something about it being
in a red cup during the holiday season that just makes it taste better. Plus, it’s been a staple of the holiday seasonal
drinks for over 16 years. That’s quite an endorsement from customers
and Starbucks alike. After all, if pumpkin spice is the flavor
of fall, peppermint is definitely the flavor of winter. “Peppermint mochas for Lia?” Made with espresso, melted chocolate, peppermint
syrup, steamed milk, and topped with vanilla whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings,
it’s just Christmas in a cup, isn’t it? The Peppermint Mocha even got its own cocktail
treatment from Starbucks, an iced version available in grocery stores, as well as a
bespoke blend and instant kits. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
seasonal foods are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

15 thoughts on “The Best And Worst Starbucks Holiday Drinks

  1. I worked at Starbucks for 3 years and let me tell you, steaming the eggnog for the eggnog latte will make you lose your hearing.

  2. Who was the stoner in marketing who thought a fruitcake Frap was a good idea? No, really.

    That said, my all-time favorites are the Peppermint Mocha and Cherry Mocha Fraps, and the mint hot chocolate.

  3. Mashed: This drink is boring! It’s too simple!

    Also Mashed: This drink has a lot going on, and too sweet.

    Mashed again: This drink is great because it’s so simple!

    Starbucks Marketing Team: ?????????????????????????

  4. Y’all are about to behead me over this opinion, but I don’t go to Starbucks that often for their drinks because they aren’t sweet enough to me

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