Do you like your drinks to be Instagram-ready? To give off a vibe that’s less “rise and grind” and more “refreshment at a Kardashian child’s birthday party”? To stain your tongue so it looks like a WebMD symptom? Then do I have some good news for you.
On Tuesday, Starbucks announced its new summer menu. Returning are the S’mores Frappuccino, Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, and Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino. But new to the menu is the fun ’n’ flirty “Dragon Drink,” that “will add a pop of color to your cup (and social media feed) this summer and all year long,” according to the Starbucks website.
Its key ingredients? Freeze dried dragonfruit pieces, coconut milk, and ice, mixed into a bunch of fruit juice and concentrate.
And, because I am this website’s resident drink taste-tester, I set off this afternoon on an epic journey to acquire a Dragon Drink. First stop: my local Starbucks—where I accidentally ordered a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher, which is not the right drink! Second stop: Another Starbucks ten minutes away, because I was embarrassed to reorder at my original Starbucks!
The official description of the Dragon Drink is a “tropical, crave-able combination of fruity and creamy refreshment.” My official description of the Dragon Drink is that it tastes like Tropical Starbursts and a Flintstone’s push-pop melted into a cup.
It goes down smooth, cold, and sugary. A froth will, impressively, remain on top for hours, or until you consume it, like a mystical sea-foam on a Lisa Frank ocean. You will say, “huh, this sweet nectar would taste much better on a beach.” Then you will crave vodka, and also vegetables.
There you have it. My thoughts! But they don’t really matter, because this drink isn’t meant for me, the writer. It’s meant for me, the Instagrammer.
2016 was the summer of the “Pink Drink.” Its origins are murky—but somewhere, somehow, someone realized if they put coconut milk into one of Starbucks’s Strawberry Acai Refreshers, it created an ombre, millennial-pink colored drink. And in 2016, ombre and millennial pink were the most Instagrammable things ever. It went viral. Soon, influencers everywhere were ordering the concoction off of the coffee chain’s secret menu.
Sensing a business opportunity, Starbucks officially added it to the year-round menu in 2017. “It has enjoyed much fandom online as Pink Drink lovers continue to share photos on social media channels using #pinkdrink,” they reasoned in their press release.
The Dragon Drink follows the same figurative, and literal, recipe. Instead of adding coconut milk into a Strawberry Acai Refresher, it’s added into a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher (the drink I accidentally ordered). It all swirls together into a radioactive fuchsia, the contrast made bigger and brighter by slapping on a Clarendon or Juno filter.
When I ordered my Dragon Drink, I started to make a funny Instagram story about it. “Where’s my Pulitzer?” I joked, as I filmed myself sipping. But then I noticed how the purple went so well with the lilacs on my desk, so I arranged them together and took a picture. Then I took that picture again, but in Portrait mode, because it made the natural light better. And then I posted it.
In reality, it sits on my desk, only a quarter sipped, because that much sugar and citric acid makes my head and stomach hurt, because I am no longer 14 with the ability to eat whatever I want whenever I want without something hurting. In reality, I spent my $5.17 (well, $10.34, if you count my accidental double order) on not a drink, but social media content. On Instagram, #dragondrink has 1,319 posts.
On Tuesday, the social media platform announced they are considering hiding the “like” button. "We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get," a spokesperson said.
I wonder whether that will change what we post, or where we go. Will we still wait in line for hours at places like the Museum of Ice Cream, or in the California Poppy fields? I wonder how it will change what we order—the mermaid toasts, the unicorn lattes, and the dragon drinks. How will we change when we no longer worry about what other people “heart”?
Perhaps we're too far gone; drank too much of the dragon-drink kool-aid. But maybe, just maybe, "doing it" or "drinking it" for the 'gram will fall to the wayside. And for the first time in a long time, we'll just post what we want.