A lot of foods blow up on Instagram, but just how good are they in reality? Chowhound’s social media producer Connor Bower is determined to find out which ones are worth your time and which are simply not worth the ‘gram.

An ordinary day in December goes like this: Starbucks releases a seasonal drink, social media and the news cycle reacts, the sun sets in the west. I wish I could say that I’m above adding my own voice to the clatter, but here we are.

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In case you’re out of the loop, a quick recap. When Starbucks dropped the lineup for this year’s seasonal drinks back in November, a ruckus emerged when fans of the chain noticed that the Gingerbread Latte, considered by many as a holiday menu staple, had been discontinued. Fast forward to present day and we’ve been rewarded with its successor: the Irish cream cold brew. Per the online description, it’s “Starbucks cold brew with Irish cream syrup, topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and a strike of cocoa powder.” TL;DR? Baileys-flavored cold brew.

Storm’s a (Cold) Brewin’

Fun fact about me: I really don’t like Irish cream! I find it heavy and cloyingly sweet, so when I picked up a batch of the Irish cream cold brew to taste test, I was predisposed to be heavily against this drink. 

But after receiving my order I was actually a big fan of the presentation. The sweet cream cold foam rests atop the coffee, slowly drizzling down and just barely incorporating itself into the drink. It reminds me a lot of Tiger Sugar’s brown sugar milk tea, famous for its streaks of caramelized sugar that cascade through milk. In an era of fast food menu pictures vs. reality listicles, it’s a small treat to have something that matches up to your expectations.

Connor Bower

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And then, the first sip. It’s sweet, yet incredibly mild. Because of the layering of ingredients, the flavors fluctuate and transition as each component swims across your tongue—the cream, the cold brew, the cream again, and a burst of cocoa right at the end. When tasting in the office, the consensus was unanimously positive, and many of my coworkers (like myself) were surprised to enjoy it so much. I will caveat that my office neighbor thought the teensiest amount of sugar in the cold brew would really amplify the flavors, so if you’re in the mood for a more sugary experience this is the way to go.

The Verdict

This is good. Really good. It’s weird to say for a Starbucks concoction, but the drink is complex. It hits all the right notes, but doesn’t clobber you over the head with its flavors. Yeah, it’s Starbucks, and yeah, at $4.75 a pop for a medium grande it’s not cheap (I literally just wrote about a toast I found too expensive two weeks ago. Oops.), but after tasting it, I have nothing bad to say.

Header image courtesy of Starbucks.

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