Winter means many things to many people. For residents of New York, it means depression. For those in California, it doesn’t mean much of anything. But for virtually everyone on earth, this time of year does signal one thing: red cup season at Starbucks, and the specialty holiday drinks that arrive with it.
In the United States, we’re all familiar with the staples: the Peppermint Mocha, the Chestnut Praline Latte, and the Caramel Brulée Latte, to name a few. But apparently, we’re being deprived of some far more compelling concoctions. In a recent blog post, Starbucks shared a glimpse at some of the other holiday drinks offered at locations around the world—and let’s just say the American ones look incredibly basic in comparison.
We might have the Caramel Brulée Latte, but Japan has the real deal: a Creme Brulée Latte, complete with custard-flavored syrup and a sugar topping meant to mimic the classic dessert’s toasty surface (though it appears that Starbucks spares the torch). Customers in Japan also have another French-inspired option, the Butter Caramel Mille-Feuille, which features “the crispy, crunchy texture of pie crust with rich, sweet custard sauce and butter caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of butter caramel.”
In fact, Japan seems to have the most interesting Starbucks menu across the board, including a Strawberry & Velvet Brownie Mocha (!!!) and a tea latte flavored with apricot sauce and topped with mousse.
Both Latin America and the Caribbean are treated to a Hazelnut Caramel Latte (yum), the Cranberry White Mocha (double yum), and the Merry Strawberry Mocha—white chocolate topped with strawberry drizzle. Whereas Starbucks’ American strawberry drinks have been a bit of a mess, it’s a flavor that sounds better on other menus: South Korea has Dolce Strawberry Milk, vaguely described as “a creamy and comforting iced beverage with the sweet taste of strawberry.”
In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, customers can order the Caramel Waffle Latte, a play on the stroopwafels of the Netherlands. This drink is a bit reminiscent of the McDonald’s Stroopwafel McFlurry, only instead of containing any actual waffle pieces (perhaps a choking hazard), it contains “spiced winter waffle sauce” with “caramel whipped cream” and a “waffle crunch topping.” As a big fan of stroopwafels, I have to say this one particularly piques my interest. And maybe if I beg and plead enough with Starbucks Corporate, I’ll get to try it in my home country one day.
The Stroopwafel McFlurry eventually made its way stateside as a limited item in 2019 alongside three other popular international McDonald’s items. Now it’s time for Starbucks to do the same thing. We all deserve a taste of that Strawberry & Velvet Brownie Mocha, and flights to Japan aren’t cheap.