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Unicorn Frappuccinos Spotted at Starbucks

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Starbucks

The existence of a mysterious new drink at Starbucks has been confirmed. This week, select locations launched the Unicorn Frappuccino in all its pink, sparkling glory. More stores are expected to release the drink on Wednesday, April 19, Bon Appétit reports.

Rumors of the magical concoction first surfaced on Reddit last week. Pictures posted to the Starbucks subreddit of the drink and its ingredients—including “pink powder” and blue “unicorn dust”—suggested that a menu item based on the unicorn drink trend was on its way. But much like the mythical creature it's named for, the beverage remained shrouded in mystery ... until now.

Since its limited debut earlier this week, Instagram has been flooded with colorful photos attached to the hashtag #unicornfrappuccino. Starbucks officially announced the drink this morning, stating in a press release that, "The elusive unicorn from medieval legend has been making a comeback. Once only found in enchanted forests, unicorns have been popping up in social media with shimmering unicorn-themed food and drinks. Now Starbucks is taking the trend to a new level with its first Unicorn Frappuccino® blended beverage, available starting Wednesday, April 19, through Sunday, April 23, while supplies last." Based on its social media popularity, we predict that supplies won't last long. Track down this elusive creation while it lasts.

[h/t Bon Appétit]

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science
Why Adding Water to Your Whiskey Makes It Taste Better
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Don’t ever let people tease you for watering down your whiskey. If they’re true aficionados, they’ll know that adding a splash of water or a few cubes of ice to your drink will actually enhance its natural flavors. But how can something as flavorless as water make a barrel-aged scotch or bourbon taste even better? Chemists think they’ve found the answer.

As The Verge reports, researchers from the Linnæus University Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden analyzed the molecular composition of whiskey in the presence of water. We already know that the molecule guaiacol is largely responsible for whiskey’s smoky taste and aroma. Guaiacol bonds to alcohol molecules, which means that in straight whiskey that guaiacol flavor will be fairly evenly distributed throughout the cask. Alcohol is repelled by water, and guaiacol partially so. That means when a splash of water is added to the beverage the alcohol gets pushed to the surface, dragging the guaiacol along with it. Concentrated at the top of the glass, the whiskey’s distinctive taste and scent is in the perfect position to be noticed by the drinker.

According to the team’s experiments, which they laid out in the journal Scientific Reports [PDF], whiskey that’s been diluted down to 40 percent to 45 percent alcohol content will start to show more guaiacol sloshing near the surface. Most commercial whiskey is already diluted before it's bottled, so the drink you order in a bar should fall within this range to begin with. Adding additional water or ice will boost the flavor-enhancing effect even further.

As for just how much water to add, the paper doesn’t specify. Whiskey lovers will just have to conduct some experiments of their own to see which ratios suit their palate.

[h/t NPR]

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Food
It’s Still Summer, But Pumpkin Spice Lattes Are Already Here
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Starbucks

It’s August, so go ahead and gird yourself for pumpkin season. Yes, that tell-tale sign of impending autumn, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, is about to come back, according to Fortune. The company hasn't released a specific launch date, but it just announced that a new bottled version of the latte will be coming to grocery stores this month, along with pumpkin spice ground coffee.

Last year, the PSL arrived in Starbucks stores on September 1; the year before, it was September 8. There's no denying that the coffee chain is forcing its fall favorites on us earlier and earlier. Early enough to make us consider getting that Pumpkin Spice over ice, in fact.

The much-derided orange beverage is just the most famous example of a marketing trend that spreads far beyond coffee. As early as late July, pumpkin-flavored snacks, cookies, cereals, and other foods you wouldn’t think should taste like pumpkin start hitting stores, giving the people what they really want: to pretend they’re cozying up in a scarf on a rainy fall day instead of sitting in front of their air conditioners in their underwear.

Why does Starbucks keep pushing the starting line of the fall season closer and closer to mid-summer? Dollar bills, obviously. In the first decade after the drink’s launch in 2003, the company sold around 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes. In 2015, Forbes estimated that it would make $100 million from the PSL that fall alone. Despite the online hate, a huge chunk of people loooove their PSLs.

These days, it’s not fall until someone starts hating on the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Besides, climate change will eventually render seasons moot, right?

[h/t Fortune]

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