Starbucks Holiday Drinks You Won't Find In The US

Starbucks die-hards in the U.S. may eagerly await the return of Pumpkin Spice Latte when holiday drink season rolls around (in August!), but they have no idea what they're missing from the fanciful holiday drinks found in other Starbucks markets around the globe. There may be a presence from some of the more familiar flavors like Peppermint Mocha and Gingerbread Latte, but there's a whole world of flavors that never make it to North American shores. These crafty creations capture something special for the cultures in which they appear, using rich flavors that might have difficulty finding footing with domestic drinkers from the staunchly PSL Nation. We may believe that, at such a special time of year, all coffee drinks deserve a fair shot, Starbucks has its own holiday plans.

Though some of the more familiar once-a-year blends can be ordered from a secret menu any time of year, the fun of waiting for the Starbucks line-up is akin to watching for Santa. The same is true in other regions where limited-edition concoctions make celebratory occasions even more special. We put on our hiking books and took a virtual trek around the world to find out what sorts of sweet selections we in the States are missing out on. It turns out there are some creative offerings that sound seriously delicious, even if we never get the chance to try them for ourselves.

Wishing Star Dark Chocolate Mocha — Asia

Chocolate and white chocolate mocha are standards in the Starbucks universe. But a cheery holiday shake-up called a Wishing Star Dark Chocolate mocha sounds like an even richer twist on the cocoa-coffee team-up. Whipped cream infused with green tea crowns the cup, while star-shaped cookies serve as festive spangles, creating a charming, tree-shaped puff that makes the connection to Christmas unmistakable. Customers can enjoy this seasonal swirl in their favorite format: piping hot, on ice, or blended to a snowy froth in Frappuccino form.

Though chocolate appears in a host of Starbucks classics, Wishing Star Dark Chocolate reminds of another deluxe take on a fudgy specialty beverage. If you stretch your memory back to the mid-aughts, you might recall a short-lived Starbucks experiment called Chantico. This super-creamy beverage was marketed as sipping chocolate, a step above hot chocolate and cocoa on the luxury scale that amounted to a melted candy bar in a cup. We might be dreaming a little bigger than we should here, but a name like Wishing Star Dark Chocolate Mocha makes us think Starbucks might miss its ultra-chocolatey past as much as we do. Is it possible this drink will make it to the U.S. someday if we're all on our best behavior? If Christmas wishes can come true, this one is at the top of our list.

Butter Caramel Mille-Feuille – Japan

Maybe ordering food from the Starbucks pastry case isn't the best idea, but it's a whole different story when pastry ingredients are included in the company's coffee beverages. Though the name may include some familiar flavors, Butter Caramel Mille-Feuille Latte isn't simply a repackaged caramel latte in a red holiday cup. The formula recreates the classic French mille-feuille pastry by combining custardy sauce and gooey caramel with a sprinkling of flaky dough and crisp pie crust crumbles, all topped with whipped cream and a gleaming drizzle of caramel sauce. And of course, there's Starbucks' signature espresso in the cup too, along with steamed milk. It's like having coffee and a treat without having to order twice.

As popular as Starbucks is in Japan, customers prefer their drinks made less sweet than American guests, making an overly sugary drink like a Butter Caramel Mille-feuille Latte seems like a holiday gift destined for the return bin. But this market adjusts the sweetness even in its best-known formulas to keep things appealing for its faithful clientele. So it's safe to say a holiday drink designed for the region is dialed into the tastes to keep the season perfectly festive. We have holiday faith that if it ever shows up in a U.S. Starbucks, it will be served at full-strength sweetness and super-charged caffeinated voltage.

Caramel Waffle Latte – Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

You may have had a baked waffle-like cookie from the Netherlands known as a stroopwafel, and you may have even had two of these baked beauties fused together with a layer of chewy caramel. But unless you've been abroad during holiday drink time, you've never had a Starbucks Caramel Waffle Latte, a smooth-sipping coffee beverage that captures the buttery flavors in a cup. Java aficionados in European markets will find this tasty celebration of a quintessential regional treat available on the holiday menu. In fact, drinking an espresso-based beverage sweetened with caramel waffle syrup and dressed with crunchy waffle sprinkles may be the best way to eat a stroopwafel that we've ever encountered.

TikToker May Bundy gave in and tried a hot version of Caramel Waffle latte, finding the combination to be a satisfying sip. Outside of Europe, Starbucks visitors in the Middle East and Africa can also look forward to sampling the sugar-and-butter wonder of this winter mix. For curious coffee lovers in all other regions of the world, crumbling up a store-bought stroopwafel by hand and dropping it into an old-fashioned caramel latte may be the only way to experience such a creative brew.

Merry Strawberry – Latin America, Japan and the Caribbean

Fruit flavors are nothing new to the Starbucks set, though these nature-inspired essences are almost always featured among the frozen drinks and iced teas sold at the siren's shop. Finding a special blend like Merry Strawberry on the menu in locations around Latin America, Japan, and the Caribbean is like discovering a secret gift hidden deep in the toe of your Christmas stocking. Merry Strawberry Cake Frappuccino continues the tradition of cold fruit drinks, but this time, there's sponge cake and shortbread flavors sharing the cup with strawberry syrup and fluffy whipped cream. The finished beverage displays elegant layers and sips like a drinkable parfait. Fans of hot drinks can enjoy steamed milk flavored with blitzed strawberries in addition to the sauce. Both versions promise to taste like strawberry shortcake, which happens to be a popular Christmas cake in Japan, a treat once seen as a luxury but can now be recreated from any of a multitude of online recipes. 

For Starbucks enthusiasts in Latin America and the Caribbean, Merry Strawberry Mocha brings together fruit and chocolate in a vibrant whirl that's both tangy and rich. While coffee specialists in other regions are ticking off their holiday to-do lists with something spicy or chocolatey in hand to remind them of the season, Starbucks visitors in these warmer climates can cradle a more customary Christmas quaff in their mittened hands.

Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate – Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

If a coffee-less creation is more your speed, the Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate found in far-off Starbucks destinations is sure to stir your imagination. The inclusion of caramel-like pralines in cookie form, complete with walnut, hazelnut, and almond essences, makes for a complex-sounding drink that takes cocoa into a wintery wonderland filled with gourmet flavor. Mocha sauce, chocolate whipped cream piled high like a snow hat, and real cookie crumbles sprinkled on top complete the picture, perfect as a family Christmas card. This dreamy recipe brings joy to Starbucks locations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, making mouths water in the rest of the world at the mere mention of what's included in the cup.

Pralines may sound more like a selection for the Southern U.S., but the recipe for this confection is believed to have traveled to America from France sometime in the 17th Century. With French culinary influences making their way to Middle Eastern and African countries, it's no surprise that a traditional sweet treat would find its way into the coffee lives of citizens during the holiday season. If only it would find its way into coffee lives in the rest of the world, too!

Red Velvet Latte – Latin America and Caribbean

Luxurious red velvet cake flavor mixed into a latte sounds like a specialty drink only celebrities would know about. But lucky customers in Latin American and the Caribbean can count on Christmas magic to bring Red Velvet Latte to Starbucks in their regions just as sure as Santa swings by in his sleigh to scatter gifts under every tree. Imagine a red velvet sauce swirled into bold espresso with a cloud of whipped cream on top, decorated with a garland of extra red velvet sauce. Of course, this soothing swig comes in both hot and iced variations to make sure everyone gets what they put on their wish lists. It's like having visions of sugarplums you can drink with a straw. Joy to the world, indeed!

Asian countries sneak in their own take on this cheerful coffee chug with a Red Velvet Oatmilk Latte, replacing standard dairy with plant-based milk for a vegan-friendly recipe. As accommodating as Starbucks is, it's a safe bet that you can ask for this beverage with your choice of milk despite having oat milk locked into the name. After all, if you can't get what you want at Christmastime, why have you bothered being good all year long?

Snow Vanilla Tea Latte – South Korea

How poetic is the name Snow Vanilla Tea Latte? Just saying the name of this Starbucks drink from South Korea feels like an invitation to relax into the warm sensation of a creamy tea beverage and forget about the chill of winter for a while. The name may sound complicated, but the drink itself is a simple yet sophisticated marriage of Earl Grey tea with foamed milk. We imagine a splash of vanilla syrup in the mix to justify the name and sweeten the deal, creating a delicately flavored brew for tea lovers that captures the unexpected warmth that fills the coldest season with comfort and cheer. And yes, winter folk who fear no chill can also order an iced version to wet their whistle, just in time for caroling around the fire.

Starbucks doesn't draw a direct comparison, but we've found a similar drink listed on the company's Teavana menu. A London Fog Tea Latte replicates the ingredients, leading us to believe that even if you can't make your way to South Korea to enjoy a limited-time-only Snow Vanilla Tea Latte, you can surely convince your barista to whip up a little holiday magic in the form of this convincing variant. Maybe leave a little extra Christmas cash in the tip jar as a world-class thank you.

Strawberry Merry Cream – Japan

You may think of strawberry as a fruit flavor that sings more about the sensations of spring than the wonders of winter. But in Japan, a Strawberry Merry Cream Frappuccino from Starbucks does its best to pair this tangy berry with undeniably indulgent ingredients to make an enchanting new beverage that arrives like a gift from the North Pole — in Japan, at least. Not only is there real strawberry pulp in the cup, but the white fluff that would ordinarily be whipped cream is actually a mix of white chocolate and silky mascarpone. The only other confection that measures up to a description like that is strawberry cheesecake, which makes us think we should ask Santa for a Starbucks card and a trip to Japan this year. A report from Japan Today notes that this singular Christmas goodie will be sold as a Tall only, a one-size-fits-all gift.

Daring drinkers may think this mix could use a little traditional tea to make things even more complex. For these holiday beverage adventurers, there's Strawberry Merry Cream Tea Latte. Available hot or cold in any size you prefer, it tweaks the formula with a mix of Earl Grey tea and milk. With drinks this sweet, who needs Christmas cookies?

Strawberry & Velvet Brownie Mocha – Japan

A red velvet brownie with tangy strawberries blended in sure sounds like a festive Starbucks holiday flavor, but only coffee lovers in Japan know for sure. They're the only region that gets to sample Strawberry & Velvet Brownie Frappuccino when the merry months roll around. The rest of the planet will just have to dream about the partnership of red velvet cake mixed with vibrant strawberries, twirling about Nutcracker-style with a whole brownie blended in the cup — yes, a whole brownie. While the red and white beverage sweeps through the cup in grand holiday style, the top gets decorated with a blizzard of whipped cream dressed up in strawberry glaze and bite-size golden chocolate ornaments. This is one glorious Christmas treat that won't require a gift receipt.

The heated-up version of this sugary sensation takes the form of Strawberry & Velvet Brownie Mocha, featuring chocolate and strawberry added to a few shots of espresso, with brownie crumbles adorning the whipped cream capper. If you've ever doubted that strawberries could find their place among the warm, spicy, and soothing flavors in the Starbucks holiday drink mixology book, this unique creation would surely change your mind. If only it were sold on this side of the Pacific.

Cranberry Mocha Blanco Latte — Latin America

Cranberries are a winter staple, and white chocolate and cranberries are a popular holiday cookie combination. So there's nothing strange about combining the flavors into a Cranberry Mocha Blanco Latte as the Starbucks locations in Latin America have done at holiday time. Also listed as a Cranberry White Chocolate Mocha, this tingly zinger included white chocolate syrup and cranberry sauce (liquid, we're guessing, not the weird, wiggly canned kind) mixed with espresso and steamed milk, with the holiday-standard whipped topping topper decked in a cranberry swirl and sparkling sugar. Though the debate over what form cranberry should take in a holiday meal may rage eternally, there's something to be said for a coffee drink that aims to sweeten the tartness with generous amounts of sugar.

Latin America wasn't the only market to receive this cranberry coffee drink. The flavor was tested in U.S. markets in 2012, having appeared the prior year in several other regions as well. Since it isn't part of the returning domestic line-up, we have to assume Starbucks didn't find merit in keeping it around for its stateside revelers. Too bad. It sounds like a fantastic use for cranberries at holiday time that everyone would be able to agree on.

Santa Boots Frappuccino – Japan

This may be the most Christmas-ready name for a Starbucks drink found anywhere in the world! There's no way Starbucks visitors in Japan could have been unhappy ordering a Santa Boots Frappuccino, or drinking one for that matter. Back in 2019, the blend of chocolate sauce and chocolate chips tempered with the addition of salty, crispy potato chips crumbled into the cup served up a surprise that surely lit up the faces of merry drinkers as the tastes merged on their tongues. It also came with a butter cookie straw, included for sipping and snacking in the best cookies-and-cocoa tradition of Christmas Eve sugar-bombing. Sure, it was targeted at younger customers, but everyone becomes a child at heart during the holidays. We hope the little ones weren't the only winners in this deal.

A 2019 review from SoraNews24 confirmed the joyful sense of childlike wonder a Starbucks cup like this should hold. The description of Santa Boots was also explained as the little plastic boots filled with Christmas treats, rather than the big guy's real footwear. Not that it would make much difference. If Santa Boots in any form show up on a Starbucks menu nearby, we're putting on our snowshoes and making tracks for the magic.