Cold and brightly hued so-called “rainbow drinks” aren’t on the Starbucks menu, but they are hot on social media right now. That’s left some customers and baristas confused.

Share story

The brightly colored Starbucks drinks — the so-called “rainbow drinks” found only on the company’s so-called “secret menu” — are all over social media right now.

But they also seem to be causing at least some confusion, if not headaches, for baristas.

The brightly hued drinks, made on request by baristas with ingredients carried in Starbucks stores such as Strawberry Acai Starbucks Refreshers, and Iced Passion Tango Tea, first took off on social media earlier this summer.

The #PinkDrink was eventually followed by other colors including #OrangeDrink and #PurpleDrink.

And as the oh-so-Instagrammable drinks were photographed and shared on social media, more and more people wanted it.

The problem is, these concoctions are not on Starbucks’ official menu.

Rather, they are on what’s known as Starbucks’ “secret menu” — drinks thought up by baristas or fans that are not part of the official recipes the company gives to baristas.

Hence some of the woebegone comments from seekers of rainbow drinks:

“It’s really unfortunate when you go to a Starbucks and they act like they have no idea what I’m talking about nor will they make it for me,” one Instragram commenter wrote.

“I asked for green drink at the loop and they didn’t know what I meant,” another said.

And from a barista: “As a barista, how do we charge for the orange drink?”

The website and online community Barista Life addressed this directly in a recent post on how to order a rainbow drink.

“The Starbucks ‘secret menu’ is most secretive to the people making your drinks; the baristas,” the post says. “If you want a ‘Pink Drink’ or a ‘#PinkDrink’ or if ‘on Wednesdays, you wear Pink,” we will make you a ‘Pink Drink’… All we, your baristas, ask from you is you simply provide us with a recipe.

“If you come up to the register or the drive-thru and order the ‘Orange Drink,’ your barista is going to have no idea what you are talking about,” the post continues. “We are not paid to know ‘secret menu’ drinks.”

Starbucks, seeing the rising popularity of the colorful drinks, provided recipes for each of the colors last week. #PinkDrink, for instance, is made with Strawberry Acai Starbucks Refreshers with no water, sub coconut milk. #OrangeDrink is made with orange mango juice with vanilla bean powder and a splash of coconut milk.

Erin Shane Riley, a Starbucks spokeswoman, says she doesn’t know the origins of the rainbow drinks.

“This is something our fans created, our customers created,” she said. “We have 170,000 different drink combinations at Starbucks if you look at the different kinds of milks, toppings, etc…. Because these aren’t official drinks, we ask customers, if they know it, to give the recipe to the barista when they order it.”

Jaime Prater, a Starbucks barista in Southern California who started an online petition urging the company to do something about what he sees as understaffing at stores, said the company regards frappuccinos as labor intensive.

But “the pink and purple drinks — they’re as labor intensive, if not more so than frappuccinos,” he said.