The Guilty Pleasure: Starbucks Fizzio Sodas Where to Get It: Test markets, including Phoenix Price: $2.45 for a Tall What It Really Costs: The shame of frequenting the Starbucks drive-thru (don't lie, you know you do it)
Late last month, Starbucks unleashed its newest product on 16 states in the southern US including our own. And if you've been paying close attention, you won't be that surprised to know that the new addition to the coffee chain's menu is handcrafted sodas.
The company has been testing a line of carbonated drinks in certain markets for some time now but still hasn't announced when the drinks will be available nationwide. I'll admit I had reservations about the prospect of fancy Starbucks sodas (especially since I usually stay away from soda unless it's paired with vodka or tequila).
But after a few tries, I have to admit, they're pretty good.
Right now there are just three items on the Starbucks Fizzio menu -- Fizzio being the proprietary name of Starbucks' carbonation-machine-thingy. You can have either Spiced Root Beer, Golden Ginger Ale, or Lemon Ale. They're all made by combining water and flavored syrups and then carbonating the whole drink at once.
And though that small detail may seem unimportant, it's actually a key to this idea's success. See, unlike other soda machines (cough, cough SodaSteam), the Fizzio machine can carbonate beverages beside water. So once the Fizzio is in a store near you, you'll be able to add a little bubble to your iced tea, Cool Lime Refresher, or whatever else you can think up.
But back to the three menu items. We most prefer the Spiced Root Beer. For those who like the creamy, thick flavor of A&W Rootbeer, the Starbucks version will probably feel too light and watery. But I think the Starbucks version's subtle hint of ginger and cinnamon is nice and not overpowering. Plus, thanks to the fact that the Starbucks sodas don't have high fructose corn syrup, you don't get that lingering chemically taste after each sip. For a non-soda drinker it's a nice refreshing way to cool off without overloading on caffeine and sugar.
The Golden Ginger Ale is also good -- particularly if you're hungover and need something to quell a bad case of the spins...or, uh, so I've heard. It's not as flavorful as say, Vernors Ginger Ale, a personal favorite, but will do in a pinch.
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What I think is a better use of Starbuck's ginger soda syrup is to have it added to your iced coffee. You can substitute the water for iced coffee -- ah the magic of the Fizzio -- and have them carbonate it with ginger ale flavoring. If you like ginger coffee (which you can get at A&T Oasis) and coffee soda (which you can get at Orange Table), this is like the best of both worlds.
I've tried this Ginger Coffee Soda creation with and without extra sweetener and would suggest you go without. At first sip a straight coffee/ginger syrup drink may taste too bitter, but with even just one pump of Classic Starbucks syrup in a Tall the sweetness starts to overpower the flavor of the ginger.
Word on the the street is that Starbucks will eventually roll out "location-specific flavors." My fingers are crossed for prickly pear coffee soda in the future.