9 Liquor Pairings To Turn Your Starbucks Drink Into A Cocktail

Even if your at-home coffee setup features an espresso machine, milk frother, and syrups, there's just something about picking up a drink at Starbucks that feels special. If you want to combine your love of Starbucks with a little home bartending, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from spiking your Starbucks beverage (as long as you're safe and not driving, that is). Turning a specialty coffee drink into a specialty cocktail takes a little know-how, and some Starbucks beverages are better suited for spiking than others. 

To help you concoct the most delicious coffee-based beverages, we've put together a list of the absolute best liquor pairings to turn your Starbucks drink into a cocktail. From spiked pumpkin spice to boozy iced tea, we're here to provide all the tips and tricks you need. Spiking a Starbucks drink is a great way to make a great cocktail without having to buy a bunch of ingredients at the store or make a mess in the kitchen. Plus, since Starbucks is doing most of the heavy lifting, these drinks are pretty hard to mess up! 

Pumpkin Spice Latte and bourbon

If you're like us, you wait all year for Starbucks to release its fall menu. When it's finally the season, the only thing better than combining pumpkin with coffee is combining pumpkin with coffee and booze. Although there seem to be more and more pumpkin drink options at Starbucks every year (the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is a game changer, trust us), we're sticking to the original pumpkin powerhouse for this one.

Bourbon pairs perfectly with the sweet and spicy nature of a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Since the difference between high-wheat and high-rye bourbon makes a big difference in flavor, we recommend opting for a bourbon that falls into the latter category. Choosing a bourbon with a significant amount of rye in the mashbill will really help bring out the notes of spice. We're fans of drinking our PSLs hot, but you can also go for the iced version if you live in a place where the fall temperatures still make iced beverages a necessity.

Drip coffee with whipped cream and Jameson

With all the fun options on the Starbucks menu, going the drip coffee route might seem a little boring — but hear us out. Sometimes simple is best, and a plain old cup of coffee can serve as the base for a delicious, caffeinated cocktail. All you need to do is add whipped cream and an Irish Whiskey like Jameson for a DIY version of Irish Coffee.

You might feel a little odd asking for a drip coffee with whipped cream, but we feel confident the baristas at Starbucks have probably encountered much more unusual requests and don't really care what you're ordering, anyway. You'll definitely want to sweeten this beverage up a bit, so add a few packets of sugar before you head home to spike your drink, or ask for a pump or two of Starbucks' Classic Syrup.

The best type of coffee for a perfectly balanced Irish Coffee tends to be a medium roast, so steer clear of Starbucks' Blonde or dark roast offerings for this one. This pairing will make you want to curl up by the fireplace and soak up all the cozy vibes as you sip on this buzzy beverage hack.

Iced Black Tea Lemonade with vodka

Pairing iced black tea with lemonade is a delicious combination on its own. Outside the walls of Starbucks, the beverage is called an Arnold Palmer. The sugar in the lemonade cuts the bitterness of the black tea, and the lemon juice brightens everything up. You probably won't be surprised when we tell you that a great way to make the drink even better is to add a little booze. So, if you want to know how to spike an Arnold Palmer for an invigorating iced cocktail — but you don't feel like squeezing lemons or brewing tea — just order the Iced Black Tea Lemonade from Starbucks and add a shot of your favorite vodka.

We like vodka in this because the relatively neutral flavor almost makes you forget you're drinking a cocktail. Don't get us wrong, we love to taste the complex flavors of spirits in some instances just as much as anyone, but sometimes you just want something that goes down easy. Gin also works well with this Starbucks drink, so don't hesitate to try out a few options to find your favorite. Another helpful hint is that if you ever want to enjoy this beverage at a bar or restaurant, you can order it by asking for a John Daly. 

Iced Chai Tea Latte with cinnamon whiskey

If you're not a coffee drinker, don't worry — you can still enjoy a tasty spiked beverage from Starbucks without ordering a cup of joe. We're huge fans of the complex spices in Starbucks' Chai Tea Latte, and the best way to pair the signature blend of cinnamon, clove, and other warming spices is to add even more warming spice in the form of cinnamon whiskey.

A popular type of cinnamon whiskey is Fireball, and while you might think it's only appropriate if you want to take shots at a party, think again. In this case, it's actually the perfect thing to pair with an Iced Chai Tea Latte. Despite the spice, Fireball (and other cinnamon whiskies) is also pretty sweet, so you won't taste too much of a boozy burn when you're drinking this combo. You can also opt for a hot version of this drink if you want it to keep you warm while you go pumpkin picking, watch a scary movie, or partake in any cozy fall activity (we don't know about you, but Chai tastes like autumn to us).

Iced Passion Tango Tea with gin

Starbucks' Iced Passion Tango Tea contains a thirst-quenching blend of hibiscus, lemongrass, and apple. Since there's no caffeine in this one, we love to drink this tea when we want hydration that's packed with flavor. However, when we're not worried about getting enough fluids, we like to spike Starbucks' Iced Passion Tango Tea with gin for a cocktail that you'll crave the next time you need some serious refreshment. Gin is the best option here because the floral notes in the tea pair perfectly with the botanical nature of gin.

If you really want to take this pairing to the next level, you can opt for a gin that features notes of hibiscus. Don't get too caught up on that idea though, since any gin will fit the bill here. Transfer your creation to a nice glass, add a garnish, and you'll have a beverage that looks and tastes like it came from a cocktail bar.

You can also try the version of this drink that contains lemonade if you want something a little more citrus-forward. Although we like this iced tea sans syrup when we're drinking it plain, you need the sugar to make this drink taste balanced, so make sure the barista includes a few pumps of the sweet stuff. 

Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Refresher with tequila

If you like flavored margaritas, this one is for you. While there's no actual lime in this, the tropical fruit and citrus in the Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Refresher definitely give it a margarita-esque vibe when you add tequila. The non-alcoholic half of this pairing contains an incredibly bright blend of fruits (Starbucks describes it as "sunshine in a cup") that will make you feel like you're at a beach resort. It's sweet enough to hold up to the strong, boozy flavor of tequila, but not so sweet that it tastes cloying.

Starbucks goes the extra mile by adding dehydrated pineapple, which will make your beverage feel a bit more special. If you really want to dive into the world of semi-homemade cocktails, you can coat the rim of a cocktail glass with lime-chili seasoning to add a hint of heat. While we never really promote drinking bottom-of-the-line tequila, save the fancy stuff for stand-alone drinking and opt for something mid-tier.

Frozen Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade with rum

Thanks to Starbucks' Frozen Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade, you don't have to break out the blender to enjoy an incredible frozen cocktail. After all, who wants to clean the blender after a few adult beverages, anyway? Adding rum to this tropical frozen drink results in a cocktail that tastes like vacation. Since dealing with a frozen beverage does entail somewhat of a race against the clock, be sure to plan accordingly so you don't end up with a melted mess (it won't be as good, we promise).

Once you have a frozen drink-friendly plan in place, you just add a shot of rum, give it a stir, and enjoy consuming a beverage that most bars can't even make (bartenders don't like cleaning the blender, either). Any light rum will work here, but if you want something funkier, you can also choose your favorite dark or aged option. We also won't judge if you want to add a rum floater to the top of this, too. If you plan on adding this pairing to your regular drinking rotation, we highly recommend investing in a pack of paper umbrellas — they make anything taste even better.

Cafe Mocha with Kahlua

We won't get any points for creativity by encouraging you to pair chocolate with coffee, but we still think this pairing is worth putting on your radar. Since a Cafe Mocha already features one of everyone's favorite flavor pairings, adding an extra dose of boozy coffee is an obvious choice. Kahlua is a coffee liquor that's a staple in cocktails like Espresso Martinis and classic White Russians — and it's also one of the best ingredients out there for when you want to spike a cup of joe. Adding it to Starbucks' Cafe Mocha results in a rich, decadent beverage with a slight buzz. 

Kahlua is only 20% ABV, so this is a great option if you want a spiked coffee that's not going to knock you off your feet. Original Kahlua works great here, but they also have other flavors like mint, vanilla, and even chili if you want to experiment with flavored spiked mochas.

Caramel Macchiato with Baileys

A macchiato is a coffee drink that sounds fancy but really isn't. Stabucks' Caramel Macchiato contains espresso, steamed milk, vanilla syrup, and a caramel drizzle. Drinking one of these already feels indulgent, and if you add a shot of Bailey's you'll have a boozy, caffeinated beverage that tastes like dessert.

Baileys is an Irish cream liquor made from whiskey, cream, and hints of chocolate and vanilla. It's rich, creamy, and the perfect foil for the flavors in espresso. It's also low ABV (17%, to be exact), so it's not a bad option if you want to drink at brunch. We like the original flavor, but the brand has a host of other offerings, including non-dairy, almond-based options for those who prefer their macchiatos sans dairy.

As we said, Baileys is rich, so don't go overboard when adding this to your beverage. If you like the taste of Baileys but want a Caramel Macchiato that packs a little more punch, you can always try adding half a shot of Baileys and half a shot of whiskey, too.