12 Facts You Need To Know About The Starbucks Pink Drink

There's something undeniably special about a visit to Starbucks. The captivating aroma, the personalized interactions with baristas, and the comforting sensation of holding your favorite drink all contribute to a truly delightful experience. Amidst the loyal Starbucks customers' quest for exceptional and memorable beverages, there are rare moments when a recipe captures the attention of Starbucks itself, showcasing the company's attentiveness to its customers' preferences and its willingness to embrace new menu offerings.

One such phenomenon is the Pink Drink, a beverage that has transcended its origins as a secret menu item to become a viral sensation on Instagram, adding an extra touch of beauty to Starbucks visits. Named for its alluring color, this drink not only pleases the eye but also delights the taste buds.

The Pink Drink has had its own remarkable evolution and impact, from humble beginnings as a hidden gem cherished by loyal enthusiasts to its current status as a core menu option. There's no doubt that this drink has some appeal and has helped make our Starbucks visits even more enchanting.

It was once a favorite secret menu recipe

Secret menu items are fascinating. Starbucks loyalists take base drinks that the coffee giant already sells, augment them using the many ways you can customize your order, name it something fun, and then share it out. These drinks either become viral hits or disappear into the graveyard of former secret menu options.

And while the term "secret menu" makes it sound like this should be an official menu that is widely known and available, there is actually no authentic, official menu. This means that if you intend to order a secret menu drink, you're going to need to know the specific drink augmentations your barista should make. Depending on the item you're hoping to achieve, this may be really complicated, or in instances like the Pink Drink, this process is nice and simple.

Once upon a time, the Pink Drink was considered part of the secret menu. Then, in spring 2017, this drink moved off the imaginary secret menu and onto the everyday core menu. Customers who had never seen it photographed online and didn't know how to order the drink (or even were too shy to do so) could enjoy this refreshing, fruity drink. Now, instead of needing to spell out all the pieces of the drink, Starbucks customers need only ask for the Pink Drink in their chosen size.

Coconut milk makes this dairy free

Before the Pink Drink earned its place on the official menu, customers were required to specify any desired modifications. That said, the only substitution necessary is replacing water in the beverage. For the Pink Drink, baristas would use coconut milk instead of water, which the baristas add to the basic Strawberry Açaí Refresher.

Coconut milk's inclusion in the Pink Drink offers the advantage of making it a dairy-free beverage, catering to customers with dietary restrictions or preferences. However, the truth about Starbucks' coconut milk is that it differs from traditional coconut milk in terms of ingredients. While basic coconut milk typically consists of water and coconut milk alone, Starbucks' variation includes sweeteners and additional additives. As a result, the dairy-free solution provided by Starbucks goes beyond the absence of dairy, encompassing a more complex combination of ingredients.

While the Pink Drink remains a suitable option for those seeking a dairy-free alternative, it is essential to recognize that Starbucks' coconut milk may not align with the minimalist ingredient profile associated with regular coconut milk.

Freeze-dried strawberries play a starring role

If you've ever looked at a Pink Drink, there's a good chance you have noticed floating strawberries in the beverage. While these might appear to be freshly sliced berries, they're actually freeze-dried. Like the Strawberry Açaí Refresher, baristas shake up the drink, and the strawberries get combined with all of the rest of the ingredients. As the liquid seeps into the fruit, they plump right up. This is an easy way for Starbucks to offer fruit in its drinks without needing to worry about refrigeration needs.

If you particularly enjoy the freeze-dried strawberry element, you have the option to ask for more scoops to be added. Baristas will happily include as many as you desire. However, it's important to note that adding too many strawberry scoops may result in large clumps of berries, making the drink a bit more challenging to enjoy.

If you're looking to add a touch of fruit variety to your Pink Drink, you can also request different freeze-dried fruit options known as inclusions. These inclusions vary with the seasons and depend on the current Refreshers Starbucks offers. For instance, you may be able to ask for pineapple inclusions or even dragon fruit. While the pineapple inclusions might not significantly affect the color of your drink, the dragon fruit ones could make the pink hue even more pronounced.

Strawberry Açaí Refresher is the base of the drink

In addition to using coconut milk, strawberry inclusions, and ice, baristas also incorporate the Strawberry Açaí Refresher liquid as the base of the Pink Drink. This base consists of a combination of water, sugar, white grape juice concentrate, various flavors, fruit juices, and natural green coffee flavor.

The inclusion of the Strawberry Açaí Refresher liquid adds another layer of flavor complexity to the Pink Drink. The base itself is packed with a blend of delicious ingredients, making it quite flavorful. Think of it as more of a concentrated concoction rather than a simple liquid.

However, it's important to note that this concentrated base is later diluted with ice and water in the refresher to achieve the desired taste and consistency. In the Pink Drink, coconut milk does the same job, but it adds a slight creaminess. There's also a lemonade option that has lemonade rather than water.

Cold foam makes a delicious addition

While coconut milk provides a delightful creaminess to your Pink Drink, if you're seeking an extra touch, adding cold foam on top can take it to another level. With a wide array of cold foam flavors available, there are numerous ways to upgrade and alter the taste of your Pink Drink. However, it's important to note that adding cold foam introduces dairy into the beverage, rendering it unsuitable for vegans or those avoiding dairy.

Opting for vanilla sweet cold foam imparts a smoothness, thanks to the infusion of vanilla. If you desire to enhance the fruitiness of your Pink Drink, consider ordering a strawberry cold foam. This basic cold foam is a blend of sweet cream cold foam and strawberry concentrate. It harmonizes with the existing flavors of the Pink Drink while introducing a new texture that complements the fruity elements.

For a more indulgent experience, you might try a chocolate cream cold foam. While it may evoke the appeal of a chocolate-covered strawberry, the chocolate flavor is relatively mild. Expect a subtle whisper of chocolate-strawberry essence rather than an intense and overpowering chocolate-covered berry flavor. To add a whole other layer of flavor, consider adding some matcha cold foam. Not only would this give you another beautiful layer of color and create an even prettier picture, but it also adds that unmistakable matcha flavor.

You can buy it as a ready-to-drink beverage

To capitalize on the popularity of the Pink Drink, Starbucks has introduced ready-to-drink versions that are available at local grocery stores. We find that the bottled Pink Drink closely resembles the one served at regular Starbucks locations, with nutrition information between the two being nearly identical. The iconic feature of the Pink Drink, its vibrant color, is also preserved in the bottled version. However, there is one notable difference to consider.

In a freshly made Pink Drink, it's common for the coconut milk to separate from the Strawberry Açaí Refresher, which can be visually unappealing, and, if we're being honest, can make us quickly lose interest. However, the bottled Pink Drink doesn't exhibit the same separation effect. Because of this, we may very well prefer the bottled version over the one served at Starbucks stores. It's worth noting that the bottled Pink Drink lacks the inclusion of freeze-dried strawberries found in the store version. 

While the convenience of having a ready-to-drink Pink Drink available at grocery stores is appreciated, some enthusiasts may miss the added texture and flavor provided by the freeze-dried strawberries. However, by pouring the bottled version over ice and adding fresh strawberries, you can still achieve a similarly enjoyable drinking experience.

There is some caffeine in it

The Strawberry Açaí Refresher, which serves as the base for the Pink Drink, contains caffeine, and therefore the Pink Drink itself also contains caffeine. Available in all Starbucks sizes, a tall Pink Drink contains about 35 milligrams of caffeine, a grande has 45 milligrams, a venti has 75 milligrams, and a trenta, which is 31 ounces, provides around 90 milligrams of caffeine.

These caffeine levels are higher than Starbucks' brewed tea offerings but lower than the average cup of coffee. As a result, the Pink Drink is an ideal choice for individuals who desire a moderate caffeine boost but do not enjoy the taste of coffee. The Pink Drink, along with the entire Starbucks Refreshers lineup, utilizes natural green coffee extract to provide that caffeinated boost. This product line was introduced in 2012 as a way to incorporate caffeine from unroasted coffee beans.

Green coffee extract contains chlorogenic acid, which has been associated with several potential health benefits, including managing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Green coffee extract typically contains higher levels of chlorogenic acid compared to regular brewed coffee. Therefore, by opting for the Pink Drink, individuals can enjoy a refreshing beverage with a moderate amount of caffeine, courtesy of the natural green coffee extract. This makes it a suitable choice for those seeking a caffeine boost without the taste of traditional coffee. 

Baristas shake it to prepare it

To prepare a Pink Drink, Starbucks baristas follow a specific process. They begin by pouring the Strawberry Açaí base into the shaker and filling it up to the indicated line. Next, they add the coconut milk, followed by the strawberry inclusions. After that, a designated amount of ice is added, and the shaker is capped. The crucial step comes next: The barista vigorously shakes the shaker to ensure proper blending.

Similar to other iced teas, icy lemonades, refreshers, and shaking espressos, the Pink Drink truly comes together through the shaking process. During shaking, the coconut milk mixes beautifully with the strawberry base, resulting in a well-incorporated beverage.

Without proper shaking, the coconut milk has a higher tendency to separate from the juice, affecting the overall texture and appearance of the drink. If you happen to order a Pink Drink and notice that the coconut milk appears to be separating or even resembling curdling, it is likely that the barista did not shake it thoroughly enough.

Make it juicier by adding more fruit juice

When customers order a Pink Drink, they often seek a fruity and refreshing beverage. While the Strawberry Açaí base provides a delightful flavor on its own, one way to enhance its sweetness is by adding additional juice. If you are ordering through the Starbucks app, you can customize your Pink Drink by selecting juice options. Most of the time, you have the option to add apple juice to the mix, which adds a sweet and fruity element. However, throughout the year, Starbucks may introduce other juice blends as well, such as a peach juice blend. 

The beauty of Starbucks continually introducing new drinks is that there is always something new to explore and experiment with. By incorporating different juices into the Pink Drink, customers can customize the flavor profile to their liking, creating a unique and personalized beverage experience. Each new addition to the menu can offer an opportunity to enhance your go-to favorite or elevate a base menu option into something extra special.

Alternatively, if juice isn't quite what you're looking for, you could also add in a fruit-flavored syrup. Though eventually, the raspberry syrup will disappear from Starbucks locations, we have noticed that it is still pretty widely available. Therefore, if you want a burst of fruit without the juice, consider requesting a few pumps of raspberry syrup be added to your pink drink.

Enjoy it blended for a Frappuccino-like experience

While shaking a Pink Drink is the traditional and delicious way to prepare it, if you desire a closer experience to a Starbucks Frappuccino, you have the option to request it to be blended. When you make this request, the barista will include all the usual ingredients of the Pink Drink, but instead of shaking it in the designated shaker, it will be blended.

In the Starbucks app, it's effortless to make this customization. If ordering through the Starbucks app, you can find the "blended" option under the "preparation method" section and simply select it. If you're ordering in person, just request that your barista prepare your Pink Drink using the blender rather than the shaker. While they may have only received this request a few times, they will certainly be able to accommodate it.

When blended, to have the true Frappuccino experience, you'll probably want to go ahead and order it with whipped cream on top. Just be aware when you make this edition, the drink no longer becomes dairy-free, just as when you add cold foam, there is now milk in the drink.

It has a relatively low calorie count

While the Pink Drink may not claim the title of the lowest-calorie drink on the Starbucks menu, it certainly falls on the lower end of the calorie spectrum. In comparison to a regular Strawberry Açaí Refresher, which contains 100 calories for a grande size, both the Pink Drink and the lemonade alternative come in at 140 calories for a grande serving. This makes them a relatively low-calorie choice.

When comparing the Pink Drink to other beverages on the menu, such as a White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew, with up to 240 calories, or a Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino, with a whopping 410 calories, the Pink Drink stands out as a lighter option.

Considering the overall experience and flavor profile, the Pink Drink provides a refreshing and enjoyable choice with relatively minimal calorie content. It's worth noting that the Pink Drink even contains fewer calories than the Blended Strawberry Lemonade, which contains 190 calories, and significantly fewer calories than the indulgent Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino, which packs 370 calories.

Instagram helped make this one popular

In addition to its delicious taste, one of the significant advantages of the Pink Drink is its undeniable beauty. This visual appeal played a crucial role in propelling the Starbucks Pink Drink to extraordinary popularity, with Instagram serving as a major catalyst.

The Pink Drink's vibrant pink hue complements various backgrounds and can effortlessly fit into a wide range of aesthetic themes. It has become a sought-after accessory for influencers and individuals alike as they recognize its potential to elevate their photos on social media. Plus, alongside drinks like the Matcha Latte, it adds some visual difference to an image.

At the time of writing, the hashtag #pinkdrink boasts over 528,000 posts on Instagram (and counting). This substantial number demonstrates the Pink Drink's widespread popularity and its status as a visually captivating beverage that resonates with fans' aesthetic sensibilities. Instagram users have played a significant role in promoting its allure and desirability by capturing and sharing images of the Pink Drink.