11 Starbucks Hacks To Upgrade Your Classic Holiday Drink

Including a DIY a Gingerbread Latte!

by Mia Mercado and Lauren Grant
Originally Published: 

Starbucks has long established itself as the go-to for festive winter drinks. From Starbucks’ special holiday cups to its announcement about which holiday drinks are coming back, you’ll have to work hard to not hear about the ‘bucks this season. If you’re looking to spice up your standard order and indulge in some Starbucks holiday drink hacks, welcome. We’ve got just the orders for you.

The Starbucks secret menu is so well-known, calling it “secret” is more misnomer than secret code. Aside from your standard “sub in a pump of this for a pump of that,” the Starbucks secret menu has expanded to include its own drink names and subcultures. There’s the Starbucks secret menu Butterbeer Latte. There’s the Jack Skellington Frappuccino, complete with espresso, chai syrup, whipped cream, and java chips. There’s even a Maleficent Frappuccino, a Starbucks drink sweet enough to turn even the baddest Disney villain good.

In other words, if you’re looking to make your classic holiday drink even better, you’ve got options. And those options have options. But before we dive into the drinks, a kind reminder to be kind to your barista. Tip them generously. Say “thank you for indulging in my buck wild drink order.” Now, let’s get into the drink hacks.


Get Less Syrup

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Starbucks drinks aren’t exactly known for being light on sweetness, and the 2020 Starbucks’ holiday drinks are no exception. If you don’t have a strong sweet tooth but still want to get into the holiday spirit, ask for half the amount of syrup so your drink isn’t quite as sweet.


Sub In Irish Cream Syrup

If you like Starbucks' Irish Cream Cold Brew but don’t want to blast your body with an iced drink in the winter, add a pump of Irish Cream syrup to your favorite holiday drink. It’d be particularly delicious with the Peppermint Mocha or the Chestnut Praline Latte.


Add A Pump Of Caramel

Nothing says “holiday season” like adding sugar to your sugar. Add a pump of caramel to your Peppermint Mocha or the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha. You could even add it to a regular mocha, add a touch of salt, and voila! You’ve got a salted caramel mocha.


Make Your Own Gingerbread Latte

Bummed that the Gingerbread Latte is no longer on Starbucks’ holiday menu? No worries! You can DIY a Gingerbread Latte with some of Starbucks’ already-existing syrups and menu options. Here’s an easy way, per the Starbucks Secret Menu site:

  • Work up the courage to order an off-menu drink.
  • Order a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino but ask for no dark caramel sauce.
  • Ignore the barista's strange looks.
  • Add a pump or two of white chocolate mocha sauce.
  • Ask for a pump of chai tea concentrate.
  • Make sure to ask for the standard Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino toppings: whipped cream, a caramel drizzle, and caramel crunch topping.
  • Finally, enjoy your Frankenstein-ed version of a Gingerbread Latte!


Add Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

Few things scream “HOLIDAYS!!!” like the smell and taste of cinnamon sugar. Make your Eggnog Latte even more holiday-esque with a pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup. The scent of the drink alone will make your house, car, clothes, etc. smell like Christmas.


Sub Out The Coffee For Hot Chocolate

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Want to feel festive without pumping more caffeine into your body? You’ve got options, my holly jolly friend. Instead of ordering a decaf latte, add pumps of your favorite seasonal syrups to hot chocolate. Turn a regular hot chocolate into a Cinnamon Dolce hot chocolate. Enjoy a Peppermint Mocha sans the caffeine.


Get a “Chaider”

While not a standard Starbucks holiday drink, the Chaider — a chai plus apple cider — is essentially a holiday in a cup. You could see if your barista is familiar with the Chaider and have them concoct the drink as they please. Otherwise, there are plenty of ways to order a Chaider at Starbucks. You could order a Steamed Apple Juice with two pumps of Cinnamon Dolce syrup and two pumps of chai. Or ask for a Steamed Apple Juice with just a few pumps of chai concentrate. You could even order a Chai Latte and sub in steamed apple juice for the milk.


Mix Up Your Toppings

Want chocolate curls on your Toasted White Chocolate Mocha? How about caramelized chestnuts on your Peppermint Mocha? Don't limit your topping options to their designated drink!


Order On The Starbucks App

Don't want to make eye contact as you ask for your 12 pumps of peppermint? Feel bad holding up the line when you try to explain your secret menu drink? Just order on the Starbucks app to avoid the awkwardness or the line.


Get Holly Jolly With Your Eggnog Latte

Want to add a little bit more holiday joy to your cup? Try the Starbucks Secret Menu Holly Jolly latte. Add peppermint and nutmeg (peppermint shots determined by your cup size) and taste the holiday spirit.


Add Peppermint Bark To Your Mocha

Peppermint bark is an all around favorite treat for the holiday season. And turning your classic hot chocolate into this delight is easier than ever. Order a regular hot chocolate, then add one pump mocha, one pump white chocolate and one pump peppermint, and enjoy!

Get creative with how you choose to quench your holiday thirst and happy sipping!

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