History of Starbucks Holiday Drinks
From hand-scooped bags of freshly roasted Christmas Blend coffee beans in 1984, to handcrafted, holiday-themed beverages today, the annual return of Starbucks holiday drinks is much anticipated every year.
The holiday menu, with a handful or more of limited-time drinks, really took wings in 2009. And every year since, Starbucks has been serving tasty sips that we enjoy all November and December.
Some of these beverages become fan-favorites and others don’t last as long.
Every Starbucks Holiday Drink Through the Years
Here’s every single Starbucks holiday drink through the years, including 2022.
Each drink is rated cheers or jeers. And this ranked list is ordered, beginning with the first ever holiday drink to the newest release.
Holiday Seasons Available: 1986 through 2020
Enjoying the longest run of any Starbucks holiday handcrafted beverage, the eggnog latte, available since 1986, didn’t make its annual return for 2021.
Thirty-four years is deserving of many cheers, but is it gone for good? Only 2022 will tell. In response, Starbucks says they evaluate what sells and changing customer needs, which makes me think this is more than a supply issue.
Holiday Seasons Available: 2002 and every year since
Starbucks peppermint mocha and the holidays go hand-in-hand—literally. For 20 years this peppermint, chocolate and espresso beverage has been bringing us joy. Cheers to that.
Holiday Seasons Available: 2008ish through 2018
Gingerbread cookies. Gingerbread houses. A Starbucks gingerbread latte seems so obvious.
First introduced in 2000 in Canada, Europe and Asia, this latte was a late-comer to the U.S. And for 10 years or so this toasty Starbucks latte was a holiday tradition for many. Sadly, it got bumped from the menu in 2018.
Caramel Brulee Latte
Holiday Seasons Available: 2009 and every year since
What’s not to love about a holiday drink that looks the part with a little shimmer on top? This festive treat, with its smoky caramel flavor and crackly sugar bits on top, à la Crème Brûlée, is one of my top two Starbucks holiday favorites.
Skinny Peppermint Mocha
Rating: Cheers for the Sugar-free Crowd
Holiday Seasons Available: 2011-2016
Starbucks skinny peppermint mocha falls into the category of “all good things must come to an end.” And so it was for sugar-free peppermint syrup back in 2016.
While this syrup may have left the Starbucks line-up, it didn’t leave the hearts of its small, yet passionate fan-base. My barista daughter tells me some customers still ask for it.
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Cherries Jubilee Mocha
Rating: Jeers, I guess
Holiday Seasons Available: 2014
If you never heard of this particular Starbucks holiday concoction, there’s a reason. It never made it out of any test markets—I guess it was that bad. Or was it? I mean, to be fair it was competing alongside the Chestnut Praline Latte.
Maybe Starbucks should try again. With cherry sauce and cherry drizzle, one can only imagine the tiktok starbucks drinks it would inspire.
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Chestnut Praline Latte
Holiday Seasons Available: 2014 and every year since
Chestnut Praline Latte was the first new beverage to get a spot on the coveted holiday menu in five years. It was, and still is, a big hit. In fact, this slightly nutty latte topped with spiced crumbs is my all-time favorite Starbucks holiday latte. So cheers it is!
Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
Holiday Seasons Available: 2017 and every year since
You had me at, “toasted white chocolate.” This drink just sounds sweet and delicious, and it is. Into it’s fifth year now, this drink and its frappuccino counterpart has the possibility of being around for many years to come. I mean, it’s sweet and toasty like a toasted marshmallow. What’s not to love?
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Holiday Spice Flat White
Rating: Cheers & Jeers
Holiday Seasons Available: 2017
The single-season, Holiday Spice Flat White had everything you could want in a warm winter beverage—mulling spices, Christmas Blend Espresso Roast and velvety micro-foamed milk. It was delicious (cheers for that).
Perhaps the holiday crowd wasn’t ready for this coffee-forward beverage made with ristretto shots of espresso. With such a short run on the holiday menu, I have to rate it jeers, as well. Cheers and jeers, it is.
Chestnut Praline Chai Tea Latte
Holiday Seasons Available: 2017
If you blinked in 2017, you would’ve missed the one and only time a handcrafted tea beverage appeared on Starbucks holiday menu. As a tea-drinker, I felt so included that year. But I’ll give you the good news, you can still order this chestnut and chai combo. As long as there’s chestnut praline syrup, the barista can whip you up this latte.
Rating: Jeers (many jeers)
Holiday Seasons Available: 2018 and hopefully never again!
Pine-flavored juniper is hardly a flavor I’d think to pair with coffee. And apparently, that was the consensus among Starbucks drinkers back in winter 2018. In a word, the taste was unexpected (but not in a good way).
Cheers to Starbucks for being innovative, jeers for thinking we could make the jump from peppermint to pine.
Irish Cream Cold Brew
Holiday Seasons Available: 2019 and every year since
More than half of Starbucks sales come from cold beverages, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the coffee giant added its first-ever cold drink to the holiday lineup. This creamy cold brew with hints of chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder was released in 2019 and has made a comeback each year since.
Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte
Rating: (Verdict Outstanding, leaning toward cheers.)
Holiday Seasons Available: 2021 and every year since
The first-ever non-dairy Starbucks holiday drink brings together a slightly almond-flavored cookie syrup, almond milk and espresso. Overall, the Sugar Cookie Latte has more of a strong cookie dough flavor than a warm-out-of-the-oven cookie. And it’s delicious.
My barista daughter tells me lots of customers are ordering this latte and coming back for more. But the lack of visual presence for a festive holiday drink is an unusual miss for Starbucks. Cheers for flavor. But jeers for appearance.
Starbucks has been roasting and selling Christmas Blend coffee since 1984 from a few stores in Seattle that didn’t yet serve drinks. The first hand-crafted eggnog latte holiday beverage was served in 1986.
Starbucks introduced Peppermint Mocha in 2002. It has been offered every year since. Originally it was topped with red sprinkles but today it gets dark chocolate curls. However, Starbucks served eggnog latte from 1986 through 2020.
Traditionally, Starbucks hot drinks are served in white cups with the green logo. But each year, beginning in 1997, Starbucks serves holiday drinks in red cups. The thing is, red cups weren’t always red. Some of the first ones were actually magenta.
More Starbucks Holiday Drinks
- All Starbucks Holiday Drinks & Syrups: Every Festive Flavor
- Starbucks Irish Cream Cold Brew: Drink Overview
- Starbucks Caramel Brulée Latte: Drink Overview
- Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte: Drink Overview
- Starbucks Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte: Drink Overview
- Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino: Drink Overview