Holiday drinks critiqued


McKenna Zacher, Sports

With every holiday season, Starbucks gathers a plethora of criticism or praise for their annual holiday cup designs. But in addition to a new cup design, they also introduce plenty of new holiday-themed drinks. This year, Starbucks has rolled out a number of new holiday drinks, some that are sure to land on the nice list and others that deserve coal.
The five holiday drinks I have explored over the last month since their release are the Toffee Almond Milk Hot Chocolate, the Chestnut Praline Chai Latte, the Holiday Spiced Flat White, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha and the Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate.

Toffee Almond Milk Hot Chocolate:
This drink was something brand new to my Starbucks palette. Typically, I am not a fan of the Starbucks hot chocolate. But this was a completely new take on the drink. It did not really have a chocolatey flavor, instead having a more nutty flavor, as a drink with almond milk and toffee should. It left a strong aftertaste of caramel and toffee, the caramel stemming from the caramel brulee topping. Overall, the Toffee Almond Milk Hot Chocolate is good but nothing special.

Chestnut Praline Chai Latte:
As someone who strictly sticks to coffee-based drinks, I have to admit that this drink is amazing. While the Chestnut Praline Latte is good, the chai version is so much better. It tasted warm, like my grandma’s gingerbread cookies. To me, it is essentially Christmas in a cup. Since it does not originally come with espresso, it is pretty sweet. But this complements its overall aesthetic. I definitely recommend this beverage to my fellow coffee-or-die devotees; it may surprise you.  

Holiday Spiced Flat White:
This drink and I have a complicated relationship. I really wanted to like it, as a Flat White with peppermint syrup has a special place in my heart. But I just do not.
This year, Starbucks has changed how they make the drink, a source says. Instead of steaming the spices in with the milk for a more blended taste, this year they just dump the spices into the drink, which causes it to be grainy, clumpy and overall unpleasant.
With the first sip, I was immediately smacked in the face with nutmeg, ginger and the rest of the “holiday spices,” which completely overpowered the rest of the drink. I think this drink could be enjoyable with less of the spice flavor but currently it is undrinkable.

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha:
I have always joked that the White Chocolate Mocha is the gateway to coffee obsession. It is the drink I drank in seventh grade just so I could say I drank coffee, whereas now it is so obnoxiously sweet to me that I can not even drink it.
That being said, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha is technically new to the menu but nothing new to my taste buds. It tastes very similar to the regular White Chocolate Mocha. But it is somehow even sweeter. The candied cranberry topping adds an aesthetically pleasing look but an awkward, Pop Rocks-like texture to drink. Personally, this drink is just too sweet for me. But if you enjoy the normal White Chocolate Mocha, you’ll definitely enjoy it.

The Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate:
My grandpa’s snickerdoodles are my all time favorite cookies. They are warm, cinnamon-filled and delicious. My first sip of this drink transported me to my grandparents’ house, evoking memories of my favorite cookies.
The Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate is true to its name; it has that signature snickerdoodle taste of cinnamon and sugary goodness. It tastes nothing like a traditional hot chocolate but that is what makes it so good. This is a drink that knows exactly what it is and delivers.

This year’s new Starbuck bucks holiday drinks, for the most part, delivered on making me even more jolly this holiday season. Consider stopping into Starbucks this Christmas and picking up a warm, cozy drink in a festive cup.