We Tried Starbucks' Bottled Pink Drink. How Does It Compare To The In-Store One?

If you've spent any amount of time on social media channels talking about a certain chain coffee shop, there is a very good chance you have run into an odd curiosity called the Starbucks secret menu. The premise here is that there's an entirely separate menu dedicated to offerings not listed on the official menu in stores. Of course, the secret menu is more of a facade. At Starbucks, you can customize drinks in an incredible number of ways, so the secret menu is really just a name for the imaginative drinks people create. Pop culture franchises frequently inspire secret menu beverages, while other options are sometimes named adjectives, like colors.

One of Starbucks' more legendary secret menu options is the Pink Drink. This beautiful pale beverage made quite a splash on social media because it's just so aesthetic. However, this drink is more than just a pretty face. We also find it to be quite fruity and refreshing. Recently, Starbucks has moved to make the Pink Drink official. Now, finally, customers can pick one up right from their grocery store in a ready-to-drink form. 

What is the Pink drink exactly?

The story of the Starbucks Pink Drink is an intriguing one. This delightful and refreshing iced beverage, known for its unique color and taste, began as a secret menu item many Starbucks aficionados couldn't get enough of. At its core, the Pink Drink is a Strawberry Acai Refresher made with coconut milk instead of water, resulting in a creamy, fruity concoction.

The popularity of this unique beverage snowballed, and Starbucks took notice. In April 2017, it added the Pink Drink to its official standard menu, giving it a permanent place among its diverse offerings. Then, in the summer of 2022, Starbucks introduced another drink to cater to the fans of the Pink Drink: the Paradise Drink. Although sporting a different color, the Paradise Drink is also a Refresher-based beverage, showcasing Starbucks' dedication to expanding its rejuvenating and fruity drink options.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Pink Drink is undeniably its color. The beverage boasts a very pale pink shade, making it incredibly photogenic and a popular choice for social media posts. This visual appeal, combined with its delicious taste, has contributed to the widespread adoration of the Pink Drink. Its journey from a secret menu item to an official Starbucks staple, and even inspiring new additions to the menu, demonstrates the power of consumer preferences and the influence of social media on modern food and beverage trends.

Where can you find it and what's the price point?

The bottled Pink Drink and Paradise Drink have become widely available, making their way into grocery stores, gas stations, and big box stores across the country. For instance, at the time of writing, Target offers these drinks for $3.49 each, and each bottle contains 14 fluid ounces, which falls between a tall and grande size at Starbucks. Comparatively, a tall Pink Drink at Starbucks costs $4.95, making the bottled version over a dollar cheaper. Interestingly, Walmart offers an even better deal, selling the bottled drink for $3.18 per bottle.

At present, only single bottles are available in stores. However, if sales continue to perform well, it's easy to imagine Starbucks offering these drinks in larger four or even six-packs, similar to how it sells some of its other bottled beverages. In the meantime, customers can purchase larger packs of these drinks through online retailers like Amazon, albeit at a higher price point.

The competitive pricing of these bottled drinks compared to their in-store counterparts has the potential to make them even more popular among consumers. As sales grow, it's likely that Starbucks may expand its offerings to include larger packs, providing even more convenience and value for customers.

What you need to know about the nutritional info

As with any new drink, it's always important to investigate all the included nutritional information to know exactly what you are getting. The serving size for the bottle is 14 ounces, amounting to 150 calories per serving, and containing 7% fruit juice. Regarding saturated fat, the Pink Drink contains 2 grams and 15 milligrams of sodium in each bottle. The beverage also provides 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 30 grams of sugar. This sugar content equates to 50% of your total recommended daily amount. Additionally, the drink supplies 16 milligrams of calcium and 54 mg of potassium. The Pink Drink and Paradise Drink have the same amounts of juice, calories, sodium, and fiber, making them nutritionally comparable.

What stood out the most to us was the sugar content in this drink, which is similar to the amount found in a Pink Drink bought directly from a Starbucks store. In fact, apart from the sodium content, the bottled beverage and its store-bought counterpart tend to be fairly similar to one another in terms of nutritional content.

How it compares to the original Pink Drink

When we tasted the two side by side, we were impressed by the similarities between the Starbucks drink made by a barista and the bottled beverage. Both are a very pale shade of pink and quite sweet. However, there are some distinctions between the two.

We found that the Starbucks drink made by a barista had more of a strawberry flavor than the bottled beverage. This could be due to the strawberry acai inclusion in the base drink from a Starbucks location or our barista adding a touch more strawberry acai juice than what's typically included in the bottled drink recipe. In contrast, the bottled beverage had a slightly sweeter taste.

One drawback of this drink is that acai and coconut milk can separate quickly. We noticed this happening rapidly with our fresh drink from Starbucks, while it took longer for the bottled drink to separate. If you are particular about this separation, you may prefer the appearance of the bottled beverage for this reason.

The other major difference between the bottled beverage and the one from Starbucks is the ice. The Starbucks drink comes with ice, while the bottled version needs to be poured over ice for a similar experience. Although you could drink the bottled beverage straight from the container, we tend to enjoy cold drinks, so we poured ours over ice.

Enjoy the Pink Drink from the comfort of your home

All told, we prefer the bottled drink over the fresh one from Starbucks, mainly due to the coconut milk factor. The fact that we don't have to watch the coconut milk separate and form a layer at the bottom of our cup is a significant advantage. While we would miss the strawberry inclusions when drinking it at home, a simple workaround is to prepare and add your own strawberries to the drink. If desired, you could sugarcoat the strawberries for a candied effect, which may be even tastier than the dried strawberries typically found in the Starbucks store version.

Another advantage of the bottled Pink Drink is its accessibility for those who live far from a Starbucks. While some areas have a Starbucks on almost every corner, others require a long drive to get to one. Having access to the Pink Drink on grocery store shelves makes it much more accessible and enjoyable for a wider audience.

However, this bottled beverage does have a pretty substantial disadvantage. While the Pink Drink from Starbucks has between 45 and 55 milligrams of caffeine, the bottled drink has less than 5 milligrams. This is quite a significant difference and an essential designation if you want a caffeine boost.

Pink Drink verses Paradise Drink

The Pink Drink and Paradise Drink aren't so much twins; they are more like sisters, and there are slight differences: the Paradise Drink has half a gram more fat, an additional gram of carbohydrates, one less gram of total sugar, and one less milligram of calcium.

When it comes to ingredients, the base ingredients for both bottled drinks are the same, but the Paradise Drink offers a different flavor profile. Plus, like the other Refreshers, each one has coconut milk rather than water. This pineapple flavor gives it a more tart and slightly sour taste, which some people have compared to the famous Disney Dole Whip. However, we find that this comparison may not be entirely accurate, as the Paradise Drink is somewhat too sour and not quite sweet enough to match the beloved Dole Whip. Additionally, the pale yellow color of the Paradise Drink may not be as visually appealing as the Pink Drink's photogenic pale pink hue. Between the two, we would undoubtedly choose the Pink Drink, with its delightful sweetness and alluring pale pink appearance, over the more tart and sour Paradise Drink.

How does it compare to other bottled Starbucks drinks?

We truly appreciate the convenience and accessibility offered by a ready-to-drink Starbucks option like the bottled Pink Drink. This beverage comes remarkably close to the taste and quality of the version available at Starbucks locations. Interestingly, while most bottled drinks may not surpass the quality of those made by a barista, the Pink Drink might have just accomplished that feat.

Many other ready-to-drink bottled beverages we've tried tend to be overly sweet or seem to overcompensate for the fact that they're not made fresh at a Starbucks location. However, the bottled Pink Drink offers some significant benefits as a pre-made beverage that's ready to pour over ice. Despite these advantages, one notable drawback remains. There is a lack of caffeine in the bottled version compared to the one served at Starbucks. This difference can be particularly disappointing for those seeking a refreshing boost from their beverage. While it may not be a perfect facsimile of the in-store version, it comes impressively close and offers a unique set of benefits as a pre-made, ready-to-drink option.

Is it worth it?

If you're looking for a fabulous alternative to the Pink Drink, perhaps even better, we think the bottled Pink Drink is absolutely worth it. Not to mention, they are actually less expensive than the ones you might get from your favorite local barista. It's a pretty good deal when you get down to it, and if you are a Pink Drink lover, we recommend giving this one a try.

If you can't find them on the shelf right away, try not to get discouraged. Whenever new offerings are released, especially from a company as popular as Starbucks, they tend to be a little bit difficult to get your hands on for the first few weeks or months. However, as the initial hype subsides, the bottled Pink Drink will likely become a regularly available item on grocery store shelves, making it easier to enjoy this delightful beverage whenever you please. As availability improves over time, you can look forward to enjoying this delicious, ready-to-drink option more easily and frequently, further solidifying its place as a beloved beverage among Starbucks fans.