Starbucks Kicks Off Winter Menu with Irish Cream Cold Brew
New hot beverages may still be on the way, but Starbucks' first new holiday offering of 2019 is for iced coffee fans.
There’s a small-but-mighty contingent of coffee drinkers out there who, like me, enjoy iced beverages even during the most frigid months of the year. And while most coffee shops stick to piping-hot holiday specials, Starbucks is once again giving cold coffee fans their own seasonal treat this year. The brand’s newest winter offering is Irish Cream Cold Brew, combining a few of the chain’s more recent product innovations with an altogether new flavor.
The Irish Cream Cold Brew consists of “Starbucks Cold Brew and Irish Cream syrup, topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and a stripe of cocoa powder,” the brand says. The Irish Cream syrup is being offered for the first time at U.S. locations, and the flavors are meant to complement the cocoa notes that are already in the standard Cold Brew. (If you’re not doing dairy, nondairy cold foam can also be requested, though the topping is best made with skim milk.)
I tried the Irish Cream Cold Brew at a preview last month and found it to be surprisingly light and sippable considering the rich connotation of Irish cream. It’s not as in-your-face as, say, pumpkin spice, but the subtle cocoa and vanilla flavors give you the feeling of drinking something a little decadent and different without getting into Frappuccino territory. (No whiskey notes are mentioned in the official description, despite being part of traditional Irish Cream, but that flavor didn’t pop out to my palate anyway.)
Back in 2016, Starbucks released its first winter Cold Brew beverage, Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew, and in August we got a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, which was the only new offering, hot or cold, this autumn. If you feel like you're seeing a pattern here, you’re right. Cold Brew and Cold Foam are becoming go-to components for Starbucks to play with, and for good reason—the company says over half of its sales are cold beverages. The relatively recent introduction of Nitro Cold Brew to all U.S. locations has likely only bolstered that trend.
The Irish Cream Cold Brew is available starting Tuesday, December 3 at participating locations for a limited time. A Starbucks spokesperson says that limited time usually extends into mid-January. And as a bonus, thanks to that new Irish Creme syrup, you could request a shot in any beverage you like while those supplies last.
As for whether Starbucks has plans to drop any other new (hot!) holiday beverages this year, a spokesperson opted not to comment at this time. If I've learned anything from my parents' secret Christmas gift strategy, that means we're probably getting something.