As soon as there’s a chill in the air, those ads for seasonal drinks at Starbucks pop up everywhere. But while a peppermint mocha might provide temporary comfort, it’ll deliver a whopping amount of stuff you don’t want along with it — one 16-ounce red cup topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls has 410 calories and 15 grams of fat. To indulge in seasonal sips without ending up on Santa’s “naughty” list, try these three local alternatives.
Spiced Apple Cider Kombucha
(Craft Kombucha, facebook.com/craftkombucha)
Need a pick-me-up while perusing the Saturday morning Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market? Make a beeline for Tanya Loucks’ Craft Kombucha. The refreshing beverage, a kind of fermented tea that originated 2,000 years ago in China, is low-calorie and comes packed with probiotics and antioxidants.
“It brings balance to the body,” says Loucks, who sells six varieties ($3 by the glass, $4 for a 16-ounce refillable bottle or $8 for a 32-ounce refillable bottle). Her fall lineup includes this seasonal flavor that combines green tea with juice from Reid’s Orchard & Winery and spices. Once the farmers market season ends on Dec. 21, get your fix at Heller’s Bakery (3221 Mount Pleasant St. NW).
This creamy vegan drink blends 9.5 pH alkaline water, cashew milk, dates, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon with java from the newly launched — and also D.C.-based — Junius Cold Brew Coffee (juniuscoffee.com). It’s the first coffee beverage from Gouter’s V Orban and Steve Mekoski.
Find the latte in 12-ounce bottles ($7) at area locations (check the Facebook page for a list), or get quarts made to order. Pumpkin Spice is available until Thanksgiving, when Nut Nog — with cashew milk, dates, vanilla bean, cinnamon, sea salt and nutmeg — will replace it. Serve the drinks cold, warm or spiked for an extra kick.
(Pleasant Pops, pleasantpops.com)
Winter is usually more about icicles than popsicles. But Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market & Cafe (1781 Florida Ave. NW) hawks “hot pops” ($3.50) that come as cubes of chocolate and other goodies (in this case, a dash of cayenne) on a stick that you swirl into steamed milk to melt.
At 200 calories a pop — without the milk — it’s a decadent treat. But at least it’s sweetened with cane sugar and maple syrup. “We don’t use any chemical products,” shop manager Emily Platt says. “We’re making them here in-house [and] we know what’s going into them all the time.”