Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers review: They’re spicy and refreshing, so mission accomplished

Doubtful about the new line of swicy lemonades? Don’t be.
Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers
Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers /

When Starbucks announced they were releasing Spicy Lemonade Refreshers, a riff on their fruit-flavored drinks sprinkled with a Spicy Chili Powder Blend, I was dubious. I’ve had my fair amount of spicy beverages, and pretty much anything from a chain is either too sweet, not spicy enough, or some combination of both. It’s a hard line to straddle, and rarely has a chain like Starbucks accomplished the impossible.

Now, I’m not here to declare this as great as the moon landing or anything, but having now tried all three flavors of Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers, I’m ready to say: mission accomplished. These are both spicy and refreshing. Also lemonade, but that’s not necessarily the prevailing flavor profile here so two out of three ain’t bad.

In case you missed the news, as mentioned there are three flavors in the new, limited edition lineup: Spicy Dragonfruit, Spicy Pineapple, and Spicy Strawberry. Each starts with the base of lemonade and the Spicy Chili Powder, then adds fruit flavors as well as real fruit pieces.

There is also Spicy Cream Cold Foam available, but as I was walking out of Starbucks with three lemonades and that particular item wasn’t readily available on the menu, I figured I’d stick to the juices for the moment. Spoiler: I’m bouncing off the walls right now from drinking three sweet lemonades, so not adding coffee to the mix was probably a Good Idea.

Anyway, the first thing you notice when getting the lemonade are the bright colors, and the small chunks of what I assume are rehydrated dried fruit (due to them floating in lemonade. Most worrisome, though, there's a layer of chili powder on the bottom. Frankly, I was less worried about the spice level than the literal level of the spice: was the chili relegated to the final sip, or would it pervade the entire drink?

I needn’t have worried. Not only are these all nicely sweetened, they have a good amount of heat to them. Those scared of spice, don’t shy away from these drinks, either. Yes, there’s a bite, but it’s mostly the nice, spicy prickle of chili heat throughout your palette as you drink, versus the serious burn you might get from hot sauce.

If anything, the chili nicely offsets the sweetness of the rest of the drink, something that I often find cloying with fruit-based beverages. Mind you, it works to varying degrees. The Dragonfruit was easily the sweetest of the three drinks, between its dragonfruit and mango flavors, and it mostly overpowered the chili flavor. The tartness of the Pineapple, meanwhile, was relatively muted versus the strength of the chili… If you’re looking for one of these that tastes the closest to a cocktail without the alcohol, definitely head to the Pineapple, which probably attributes part of the dryness of the beverage to passionfruit flavors.

But overall the winner here with the best balance was the Strawberry. Maybe it was the strawberry flavor, maybe it was the açaí… Whatever it is, this was easily the lightest, most refreshing, and perfectly spicy – or swicy, if you prefer – of the three bevies.

As a bonus, every once in a while you suck up a nice little chunk of fruit – I got a few sips of Dragonfruit in particular. But most people don’t like to chew their beverages, I know I’m in the minority here.

All in all, a strong showing from this new line. I would personally skip the sticky sweet Dragonfruit if I were to get this again, but depending on whether I wanted to take a walk in the park or lounge on the beach, I might reach for the Spicy Strawberry or Spicy Pineapple, respectively.

Okay, fine, I'll go get the Spicy Cold Foam. You twisted my arm.

B+. The strawberry is the best of the bunch, but overall the new Starbucks line is spicy and refreshing, per the name.. . Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers. Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers

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Note: a gift card was provided by Starbucks to Guilty Eats to try these drinks.