So stop trying, for the sanity of your baristas
EC: The Most Ill-Conceived Frappuccino of 2017
Credit: Illustration by mppriv via Getty Images

I'm confused by the new Starbucks Dragon Frappuccino. Not on an existential level but a practical one. The Starbucks Dragon Frappuccino popped up on Instagram over the weekend, and the drink itself looks gorgeous—a pale green beverage with swirls of bright purple along the sides that somehow seems more natural than the now-infamous Unicorn Frappuccino, yet still magical. But if you've been wondering what's in a Dragon Frappuccino and how to order a Dragon Frappuccino at your local Starbucks, you're kind of out of luck. That's because no one really seems to know what's in a Dragon Frappuccino, least of all me.

And that's frustrating, in part because I fancy myself as something of an expert in the Starbucks secret menu. (I should just add here as a disclaimer that the Starbucks secret menu is not an actual thing administered by Starbucks. Instead, it's a series of customizations you can make to existing menu items to create your own "secret" drink.) I generally pride myself in my ability to look at a Starbucks drink on Instagram and reverse engineer it, based on the photo's caption and what I know about the regular Starbucks. But the Dragon Frappuccino left me scratching my head.

The main ingredient in the Starbucks Dragon Frappuccino is a regular green tea Frappuccino with vanilla bean powder, and that makes sense to me because it's green. But I had no idea how to order the purple swirl. Most folks are describing as, "some berry cup swirl," seemingly based on an Instagram post from Varin Thorn, and though that sounds straightforward, from what I understand, there is no such thing as a "berry swirl" on the regular Starbucks menu.

The closest I could get to a "berry swirl" on the Starbucks menu was raspberry syrup, but the raspberry syrup wouldn't give a drink that distinctive pink and purple shock of color. That's because the raspberry syrup is clear, a fact that was confirmed on the phone by a barista from a Starbucks in Brooklyn. I asked the barista if there were any purple or berry syrups on the menu that would give the drink a swirl, and she said there wasn't. (She also hadn't heard of the Dragon Frappuccino, which, like, bless her.)

So what is the so-called "berry cup swirl" that gives the Dragon Frappuccino its magic? It seems like its an ingredient from the Unicorn Frappuccino, repurposed to create a new drink. That checks out given the origin story of the Dragon Frappuccino. According to Today, baristas at one store created this new Starbucks secret menu item after they started running out of the ingredients to make the now-infamous Unicorn Frappuccino.

It's also backed up by Instagram. One user, known as @mr.doodleshate, posted a picture of a Dragon Frappuccino over the weekend, showing off the sticker with his order on the side. This "new Starbucks Dragon Frappuccino," as he called it in the caption, is labeled as a Unicorn Cream Frappuccino, which, to me, indicates that the pink syrup comes from that magical, limited time only drink—not the regular menu.

So don't walk into your Starbucks asking for a Dragon Frappuccino. You won't get one. You cannot order a Dragon Frappuccino from Starbucks because there is no such thing. Even if you go in and ask for a "berry swirl," you'll just confuse everyone because there is no so-called berry swirl on the regular menu—or secret menu, for that matter. If you do order a Dragon Frappuccino, don't get mad when your barista can't make it. This alternative to the Unicorn Frappuccino used the same ingredients as the original, and honestly, it's not your barista's fault that unicorns—and dragons—are fleeting.

By Maxine Builder and Maxine Builder