Sip the season: Starbucks Christmas drinks you have to try

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When the Starbucks holiday menu drops each November, people flock to the cafes to buy a coveted red cup filled with one of the brand’s signature seasonal drinks. The annual rotation features a few new Starbucks Christmas drinks in addition to classics, like the peppermint mocha, that have graced the menu in years past.

Four starbucks cups with christmas decorations on them.
Starbucks holiday cup designs. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

If it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, it might be thanks to the holiday menu at Starbucks. Each year in early November, Starbucks announces its holiday lineup of Christmas drinks and seasonal bakery treats, with the menu being available in stores a few days later. 

These short-lived Starbucks drinks feature the cozy flavors of the season, from eggnog to hot chocolate. With classic recipes like the peppermint mocha and newer concoctions like the Irish cream cold brew, the introduction of the seasonal menu items feels like the beginning of the holiday season to many raving fans. 

Starbucks red cups

Every season, the chain serves its holiday drinks in red cups, which feature a new design each year. Participating stores celebrate Red Cup Day on Nov. 17 each year, when customers can order one of the holiday beverages to receive a free, limited-edition, reusable red cup. 

The holiday cups are an initiative by Starbucks to reduce waste. Customers are encouraged to bring them in every time they order a drink instead of receiving a disposable paper cup. 

A woman holding a starbucks coffee cup.
Photo credit: Unsplash.

The most popular Starbucks Christmas drinks

Whether you like coffee, tea or hot chocolate, there’s a cozy drink you’ll love on this list of popular Starbucks holiday drinks over the years. These are some of customers’ favorites: 

Irish cream cold brew

Starbucks’ Irish cream cold brew drink features cold brew coffee poured over ice. On top is a float of fluffy cold foam that’s flavored to taste like Irish cream liqueur, which has notes of chocolate and vanilla. This non-alcoholic coffee drink is refreshing for those warmer winter days. 

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Chestnut praline latte

If you’ve ever wondered what chestnuts roasting on an open fire smells like, wonder no more. Starbucks’ chestnut praline latte carries notes of caramelized chestnuts and spices, and is topped with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbles. 

“My favorite Starbucks holiday drink is the Chestnut Praline Latte. It’s sweet and flavorful without being over the top, and the scent and flavor reminds me of all the times I’ve spent outside at Christmas tree lots in the winter.” 

— Michelle Price, Honest and Truly

Iced sugar cookie almondmilk latte

Designed to taste like a frosted sugar cookie, this drink features Starbucks’ blonde espresso, which is made with a lighter roast of coffee beans. Combined with a sugar cookie syrup that has hints of vanilla and almond and creamy almond milk, this iced coffee drink is finished off with a festive topping of red and green sprinkles. 

A starbucks mug with marshmallows and cinnamon near a christmas tree.
Photo credit: Unsplash.

Toasted white hot chocolate

Fans of white chocolate and coffee haters alike will love this sweet, coffee-less drink. With caramelized white chocolate, steamed milk and festive sprinkles, Starbucks’ toasted white hot chocolate is a cozy alternative to regular hot chocolate. 

“I really enjoy the toasted white hot chocolate from Starbucks around the holidays,” said Gen La Rocca of Two Cloves Kitchen. “I’m someone who doesn’t drink caffeine, so it’s really nice to have a warm drink option that I can enjoy with my coffee-drinking friends and family.” 

And if you do like coffee, try the toasted white chocolate mocha. It is similar in flavor but with the addition of steamed espresso. 

Caramel brulée latte

Starbucks’ caramel brulée latte tastes like the indulgent crème brulée dessert: a sweet custard with a crunchy caramelized topping. Made with espresso, steamed milk and caramel sauce, the latte is topped with whipped cream and crumbles of crunchy caramel reminiscent of its namesake. 

Peppermint mocha

Finally, meet Starbucks’ peppermint mocha, if you haven’t already — it’s been on the holiday menu since 2002. One of the most popular Starbucks Christmas drinks, this warm, mint chocolate-flavored beverage is comforting and festive. 

“It isn’t Christmas until I’ve had my first peppermint mocha from Starbucks. And sometimes Christmas starts in July. While billed as a seasonal drink, patrons can order it year round,” said Jennifer Osborn of Kitchen Serf. “The peppermint is so refreshing and pairs perfectly with the creamy mocha base. The whipped cream on top adds to the luxurious experience,” said Osborn. 

A cup of starbucks coffee sitting on top of snow.
Photo credit: Unsplash.

Discontinued Starbucks Christmas drinks

The advent of new holiday recipes typically means a few drinks get kicked off the list, making each year’s menu differ from previous years. Introduced on the 2000 holiday menu, the gingerbread latte spent 18 years on the menu before being eliminated. The spiced coffee drink featured a spiced syrup with flavors of ginger, allspice and cinnamon. 

Other discontinued holiday drinks include the eggnog latte, the cherries jubilee mocha and the juniper latte. However, you can still order some of the discontinued drinks from the Starbucks secret menu

And though the seasonal menu’s cozy, warm drinks take center stage. However, the usual drinks like vanilla lattes and Starbucks refreshers are still available.

Tips on ordering Starbucks Christmas drinks

Many drinks at Starbucks can be customized with different types of milk and sweeteners. Here are some tips and tricks for ordering from the Starbucks holiday menu: 

  • If you are sensitive to sweetness, ask the barista to use half the amount of syrup in the cocktails. 
  • Many of the drinks can be ordered dairy-free with your choice of soy milk, oat milk or almond milk. 
  • For sugar-free drinks, ask to substitute the syrup for sugar-free syrup, if it’s available. Most stores carry plain sugar-free syrup, sugar-free vanilla syrup or sugar-free cinnamon syrup. 

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Susannah Brinkley Henry is the cocktail content creator behind the blog Feast + West. Her work has been featured in Southern Living, Oprah Daily, Buzzfeed, and more. In 2019, her website was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards for Best Entertaining Blog. As a professional graphic designer, photographer, writer, and recipe developer, Susannah helps home bartenders and drink enthusiasts level up their cocktail skills.  

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