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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Open Tab: Festive drinks for the finicky palate

David Samson/The Daily Northwestern
Coffee shops like Starbucks and Colectivo have festive new drinks to get you in the holiday spirit.

Red aprons, Mariah Carey and hints of peppermint in the air can only mean one thing: The holiday season is upon us.

With it comes a slate of new seasonal drinks at your favorite local coffee shop. But what if you, like me, are a super picky eater? You only tolerate coffee. You don’t understand why chocolate is so popular. You cringe at the smell of peppermint. 

Fear not, because this Starbucks barista has got you covered with tips to liven up the holidays — sans Peppermint Mocha and Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Instead of a basic coffee, try a hot tea to get your caffeine fix this holiday season. Bold flavors of fruits, nuts and spices can be found all around Evanston, especially at Colectivo Coffee on 716 Church St.  

I tried Colectivo’s Merry Cranberry Tea. Advertised as a “seasonal tea with ginger, cranberry, hibiscus, cinnamon, orange peel and clove,” this tea did not lack flavor. The cranberry’s tartness made its mark on me from the first sip and the complementing spices provided a warm, although sometimes overpowering, aftertaste. 

One way to dilute this palate for the picky type is by adding milk and makeshifting a Merry Cranberry Tea Latte. I’d recommend using oat milk.

This wasn’t my favorite tea, but it definitely put me in the holiday spirit — and at only $2.95, it’s perfect for college students on a budget.

Keeping on the tea train, chai is probably my favorite coffee shop offering because of its smooth sweetness and compatibility with other flavors, such as brown sugar, caramel and milk alternatives.

This year, Starbucks released hot and iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai drinks. Although they are a bit pricey, both drinks are extremely popular — my store ran out of both oat milk and chai after Black Friday weekend. The gingerbread flavoring elevates the spices in the chai, creating a vibrant seasonal drink.

Buyer beware: The hot and iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai drinks have the same name, but their recipes are slightly different. The iced version adds an oat milk and gingerbread froth, made by blending oat milk and gingerbread like cold foam, to the top of the drink. But it has no gingerbread in the main body of the drink, leaving consumers conflicted. 

I loved the hot Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai. It was a warm, festive and flavorful celebration of some of my favorite alternative winter options. I haven’t tried the iced version yet, but my co-workers tend to find the froth unnecessary and recommend the hot version to guests. 

This season is a time to experiment with new flavors and get yourself into the holiday mood, so be innovative and unorthodox. Trust me, your local barista is sick of making those same few basic drinks anyways.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @dpsamson_

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