Starbucks is again looking to spirits and cocktails to create new products, and this time it’s capitalizing on some ginspiration. As of March 13, the coffee chain is selling Gin Barrel-Aged Cold Brew.
The cold brew is made from small-lot Rwandan coffee beans. Before the beans are roasted, they’re aged in barrels that previously held bourbon, and then gin, from Seattle distillery Big Gin. After a few weeks in barrels, the beans are roasted, and, while they don’t result in a boozy coffee, they do retain flavors like pepper, cardamom, vanilla, caramel and citrus.
“The beans absorb the botanical essence of the gin, bringing out its bright citrus notes with a sweet caramel finish,” Jennifer Galbraith, Starbucks manager of product development, said in a statement. “The resulting cup is rich, nuanced and unlike anything we’ve tasted before.”
Starbucks fittingly prepares a cocktail-esque, Gin & Tonic-inspired signature drink with the Gin Barrel-Aged Cold Brew. The coffee concentrate is shaken with ice and a few dashes of lime bitters, then topped with tonic and a lime garnish.
“When you go to take your first sip, you’ll smell the quinine from the tonic and the botanicals from the gin and the coffee,” Galbraith said. “Then you taste the orange and lemon, finishing with caramel notes from the coffee and the barrel. It weaves together like a piece of fabric and leaves you with a light, refreshing flavor.”
The release comes a year after Starbucks released a whiskey barrel-aged cold brew. In the last year, Starbucks has been serving up off-menu espresso cocktails and opened a new Roastery that serves alcohol (with 1,000 more planned to open). But for now, like many of Starbucks’ alcohol and alcohol inspired offerings, Gin Barrel-Aged Cold Brew is only available at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle.