Starbucks’ seasonal holiday menu — the gift that keeps giving

Art of two cups of Starbucks drinks. The drinks are brown and there is white foam on one and red and green sprinkles on both. There is white text that says "happy holidays!"
(Kristine Nguyen | Daily Trojan)

What’s better than the holiday season? Starbucks season. The seasonal menu returned Nov. 4, and, if you haven’t been getting Starbucks every day since, what have you been waiting for? 

There is quite simply nothing better than a steaming Peppermint Hot Chocolate or Toasted White Chocolate Mocha to get a taste of the holidays as you spend your remaining sanity finishing the semester strong. Consider this ranking of the Starbucks seasonal menu as your official sign from the stars to get your holiday on. 

8) Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

As a disclaimer: I am simply not a pumpkin girlie. While I work on this listicle, sipping on the very drink that I am talking about, I fail to understand the sway pumpkin has as a flavor and yet, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it. 

Do yourself a favor and move away from the very basic persona of a pumpkin spice latte. You can and must do better! The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew has everything you’re looking for in a coffee, with the added bonus of a sweet pumpkin foam to remind you that it’s fall. The foam’s sweetness and creaminess are a perfect supplement to the strong, bitter taste of the cold brew. This is the drink to get as you stroll 20 minutes late to your 9 a.m. and ruminate on the lack of fall foliage in Los Angeles. 

7) Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin 

To get our pumpkin mentions out of the way, here is another suggestion for all you pumpkin-is-the-perfect-fall-flavor obsessed people reading this listicle. Starbucks bakery items can be a hit or a miss and aren’t known for being the freshest or best bakery products, but sometimes we have to settle for less. 

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin doesn’t feel like settling for less. The cream cheese was simply the star of the show for me. If food can transport you somewhere else, the muffin made me feel like I was on the East Coast in a red beanie with a scarf around my neck and surrounded by maple trees. As an added suggestion, stream “Red (Taylor’s Version)” as you bite into the muffin for all the fall feels you need.    

6) Sugar Plum Cheese Danish

I was initially hesitant about whether I would like the Sugar Plum Cheese Danish. The cheese danish does its job when I need a quick breakfast sugar fix, and I wasn’t convinced about sugar plum adding anything of substance. I was pleasantly surprised at how the jam elevated the danish, giving it a holiday twist. 

The jam and cheese together create an explosion of holiday flavors in your mouth. I will always wish for more cheese, but the jam was more than generous. If you’re willing to give the Starbucks bakery items a chance, the Sugar Plum Cheese Danish could be the one. 

5) Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

Who needs someone to cuddle with this cuffing season when that’s what drinking the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha feels like? Even better if you have someone to cuddle with while sipping on the drink. No pressure. This is not a drink for serious coffee drinkers. 

In fact, you can almost forget you’re drinking coffee with the sweetness of the white chocolate topped with whipped cream. Yes, getting any holiday drink without whipped cream or a cream foam is a crime. There is nothing in particular about white chocolate that makes it seasonal and yet this drink is so decadent it feels special. 

4) Peppermint Mocha 

Take coffee, add chocolate, add peppermint and top with whipped cream — you have attained a level of excellence most people can only hope for. If hot chocolate won’t do it for you and you must get work done, then the mocha is an acceptable substitute that gives you the caffeine you need to make it through another day. 

Peppermint is truly my favorite holiday flavor, as I will go on to expand later, and this drink combines all the different ingredients that make life worth living. Don’t trust my word for it? Go and give it a try and you will have no choice but to concede.  

3) Jade Citrus Mint Brewed Tea with Spearmint and Lemongrass 

While not a holiday exclusive and luckily available year-round for us tea drinkers, tea is the best way to keep warm as temperatures drop. Nothing about this screams holidays, but the Jade Citrus Mint Brewed Tea is the reminder we need that winter is fast approaching, and with it all our hopes and dreams for a new year. 

The name and flavors within the tea speak for themselves. Jade, citrus, mint, spearmint and lemongrass — what could go wrong? If you like mint, more mint and only mint, this could be all you need. 

2) Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Did you truly think any fall drinks listicle could be complete without hot chocolate? Hot chocolate is, and always will be, my go-to holiday drink. If any drink could be the holiday season in a cup, it has to be hot chocolate. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules, but in the case of this listicle, I absolutely do.

I didn’t think anything could ever elevate or make hot chocolate even more delicious than it is already, but I must admit peppermint simply makes everything better. Having issues with your laptop? Peppermint. Don’t know how to ask for an extension on a paper? Peppermint. I’m kidding. Peppermint may be absolutely magical as a flavor and you may be able to bribe a friend or professor with it, but please don’t pour it on top of your laptop. I will go as far to say pumpkin must go because peppermint always wins the fall flavor battle.  

1) Irish Cream Cold Brew  

I am a firm believer in Irish Cream Cold Brew supremacy. I have simply not tasted another Starbucks drink that tasted better — seasonal menu or not. While missing the whiskey component of an actual Irish coffee, the drink comes very close to being Irish coffee in that “American fast food company trying to recreate a different culture in a cup” kind of way. I simply have no criticism. 

Each time the cocoa powder on top of the sweet frothy vanilla cream hits, I want to jump with joy. It’s hard to imagine getting through any morning class without my trusty Irish brew by my side. For a true, tried and tested method to elevate your coffee and take it to the next level, add some Baileys Irish Cream for the alcohol kick. Trust me!