How To Spike Your Starbucks Vanilla Latte For A Tasty Kick

While Starbucks' flavored lattes are widely known for their ability to spark a sugar rush, you can also take these drinks in a more mature direction back at home. Starbucks' vanilla latte, for instance, provides a sweet, yet relatively blank canvas for any number of alcohol pairings.

First, you'll want to consider the main components of your latte -– espresso, steamed milk, vanilla syrup –- so you can find complementary flavors, so you don't wind up with an unbalanced drink. For example, sambuca pairs nicely with espresso because the sweetness and bitterness balance each other out, but pairing sambuca with vanilla syrup could prove an unpleasant combination for those not fond of licorice.

Conversely, the best types of rum for mixing include a woody flavor, which pairs well with both smooth espresso and creamy vanilla. Likewise, subtly fruity whiskey pairs well with light-roast espresso and vanilla. You can also try adding tequila to your espresso, as this pairing brings out an earthy flavor that is only further emphasized by the toasted woodiness of vanilla. Regardless of the alcohol type you choose, only make this particular customization in the safety of your home — not at the store itself.

Order your Starbucks vanilla latte iced to make a boozy slush

Though a hot Starbucks vanilla latte with rum might make for a cozy winter night's treat, what about a cold option for summer? Rather than order a regular vanilla latte, order it iced and blended into a rich, espresso Frappuccino.

Once home, you can again add tequila, rum, or whiskey to your chilly drink. The resulting beverage will be your own sweetened, indulgent version of a freezer-door cocktail, perfectly chilled and icy, but unable to fully freeze through thanks to the alcohol. Give the drink another mix in case the components have separated, and you're ready to kick back and enjoy your boozy espresso slush.

Of course, you can also take your boozy bevvy up another notch by topping it off with additional complementary flavors. Unlike dark roast, which can be too rich, a blonde espresso in your vanilla latte pairs well with a variety of fruity flavors. For instance, you could add maraschino cherries for a touch of tanginess to balance out the sweet and bitter flavors. 

What other Starbucks drinks can be elevated with booze?

A spiked latte might not be your cup of tea (or coffee, rather), but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun of a boozy Starbucks beverage. Most of the chain's menu items would be delicious with a shot of alcohol, so long as you choose harmonious flavor pairings. For instance, any lemonade-based Refresher would pair excellently with vodka, creating a deliciously fruity cocktail. For an even more tropical experience, you can try a blended Strawberry Acai Refresher mixed with tequila and a splash of lime, or a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher with any type of rum you please, such as a coconut-infused version.

Alternatively, you could try adding rosé to your Pink Drink for a floral-forward beverage, or mix some Baileys Irish Cream into your Starbucks pumpkin spice hot chocolate, a flavored latte, or a basic cold brew. You'll have a creamier drink with a nice kick. If you really want to taste the coffee in your spiked drink, you can zhuzh up a basic espresso or mocha with whiskey, Baileys, or Kahlúa to emphasize those rich java flavors. Whichever pairing you choose, enjoy it responsibly — you might get two Starbucks drinks on a hard day when you need multiple pick-me-ups, but maybe only spike one of them.