Not as good as it looks
EC: The New Starbucks Ombre Pink Drink Looks Good But Tastes Meh
Credit: Illustration by Rebecca Firkser

You don’t have to recite a strange combination of ingredients to your barista in order to get a Ombre Pink Drink anymore. The pink and white drink that’s been popping up all over social media is next in a series of viral Starbucks drinks to be added to the coffee shop’s permanent menu in United States locations. The sister to last year’s viral sensation the Pink Drink, which also originated as a Starbucks secret-menu item, the Ombre Pink Drink is a Cool Lime Refresher with a coconut milk base topped with Teavanna Shaken Iced Passion Fruit Tea and a slice of lime (or “lime wheel,” as Starbucks calls it). The drink arrives on the counter as two separate layers, but the moment you stick in a straw, it begins to swirl into that Instagrammable ombre.

For those still nervous after learning that the smallest size Unicorn Frapuccino contains 59 grams of sugar, fans of sweet drinks don’t have to be quite as fearful of the ombre. A tall Ombre Pink Drink has 14 grams of sugar and 35-45 milligrams of caffeine (Starbucks refreshers are shaken with green coffee extract).

My journey to the first sip of the Ombre Pink Drink took a bit longer than expected. Although the news of the drink’s addition to the permanent menu broke this week, the first Starbucks I ordered the drink from wasn’t able to make it. An very helpful barista went so far as to go to the back of the cafe to consult with a higher power—a manager? A menu book? It was unclear. She returned to tell me that while the drink was indeed being added to the permanent menu, it—plot twist—wouldn’t be available until the end of June. She did not offer to attempt to make the drink.

EC: message-editor%2F1496416893130-ombrepinkinline
Credit: Photo by Rebecca firkser

While I could’ve told the barista how to make the Ombre Pink Drink, secret menu-style, I was committed to only trying the drink if I was able to order it officially. Off I went to a second Starbucks. Upon ordering the drink, the barista immediately said they would make it for me, but I would need me to tell them how. I began to feel a bit silly, but then, there was hope: The barista found that Pink Ombre Drink was indeed an item she could select on the register.

I heard someone shout “does anyone know how to make the ombre one?” One very confident barista admitted that he did, and then proceeded to make the drink as four other baristas watched.

“If the lime hits the coconut it curdles,” another barista warned the group. “It's a stupid drink,” she quietly added.

The Ombre Pink Drink is certainly pretty to look at, and as a fan of lava lamps I’m no stranger to staring at swirling colors. But to be honest, it did not taste good. With its saccharine flavor lying somewhere between an Airhead and children’s cough medicine, I was not a fan. Sure, the taste was a bit more bearable after I mixed in the coconut milk really well—but I suppose if one diluted a shot of cough syrup with milk its sharpness would also mute. I should also note that there was no “lime wheel” to be found in my cup.

Was it pretty? Sure. But I’d have been much more happy to sip on a strawberry Frappuccino this morning, and that’s not saying much.