Oh, gingersnap

Starbucks’ holiday drinks usually leave me cold — not for me Josh’s strange Peppermint Mocha Fetishism. But this year I’ve turned a new leaf (or rhizome), as their 2008 Winter Lineup includes an imaginative re-thinking of the old standby: Gingerbread Latte. New this year is the Gingersnap variant, which marries a reformulated sugar syrup with a genuine ginger innovation: “authentic Austrian crystallized ginger.” Yes, it’s the Kurt Waldheim of caffeinated beverages.

The only problem comes when you order the drink for the first time, thinking you’re going to get a beverage and not a substrate for sprinkled candy topping. Upon gradual consumption of the drink the crystallized ginger eventually settles to the bottom of the cup, where it engorges itself on milk and syrup, transforming itself into something resembling soggy bits of syrup-sponges. Exactly what you won’t know, at least not the first time you tip the cup all the way up to suck up the last dregs of latte and get, instead, some kind of bizarre lukewarm chewy invader. It’s like a bizzaro-world version of Bubble Tea: The Drink You Masticate®.

Despite this frightening first encounter with drink invaders of the Middle European kind, I’ve gradually accepted the Gingersnap into my ordering habits, soggy ginger and all. Any thoughts on this or other members of Starbucks’ red cup brigade?

2 Comments so far

  1. Zee Grega (zeegrega) on December 4th, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

    Just yesterday I wandered into Starbucks for the first time in a month–I rarely drink coffee these days–and impulsively decided to get a decaf Gingersnap. It was tasty enough until I got to the last few sips and discovered that there was something…odd…in my mouth. After I finished hyperventilating I realized it was only soggy ginger. "Soggy syrup sponge" is the most precise definition of just what they are, indeed. Fond as I am of ginger, I’m not sure I’m going to be having this drink again, it’s just a little too weird for me.

    As for the Peppermint syrup, I highly recommend ordering a Peppermint steamed milk. The taste may not be for everyone (it tastes like a melted Starlight Mint), but the look of mounting horror on the face of the barista when they realize that, no, you don’t want a Peppermint mocha, no, you don’t want a Peppermint hot cocoa, no, you don’t even want a Peppermint latte but simply peppermint syrup and milk totally makes it worthwhile.

  2. Beth (sea_beth2) on December 6th, 2008 @ 6:56 pm

    Eeheehee, Peter, now I’m tempted to go order one just to try out the soggy syrup sponge you speak of. Hee :)

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