Before it was an insanely popular flavored coffee drink that people love to hate — and shamefully admit they also love to drink — pumpkin spice was nothing more than a flavor for pie. No one really gave much thought to those beautiful fall-inspiring orange gourds, apart from carving them up for Halloween art projects, and using their innards to bake up goodies for the family's Thanksgiving feast.
All that changed with the 2003 launch of Starbuck's pumpkin spice latte (aka the PSL), which the chain coffee retailer releases each September for the fall season. Since that time, Americans have dreamt up a number of ways to enjoy pumpkin spice, from cinnamon-, nutmeg-, and clove-flavored donuts, gum, Oreos, ice cream, and hummus to — yes — even condoms.
But the pumpkin spice beverages reign supreme, and it doesn't have to be a Starbucks latte. Here in South Florida, we've got a few other options for pumpkin-inspired drinks. Some are new, others are made locally and with (gasp) real ingredients. So go ahead and indulge in all things festive and fall this month. We promise no one will judge you.
The Pumpkin Macchiato at Dunkin' Donuts
This year Dunkin' Donuts has unveiled a pumpkin-esque expansion of its espresso beverage lineup, announcing the addition of the pumpkin spice macchiato to its menu, available hot or iced. Each macchiato is a handcrafted, layered espresso beverage made with steamed milk and the brand's pumpkin flavored swirl, then topped with a double shot of freshly-brewed espresso. It's available through September 28. Pair it with a pumpkin cheesecake donut, and you'll be spiced out for the day.
The Honey Pumpkin Latte at Warsaw Coffee Company
Forget the PSL. We've got something better — and real — for you. Warsaw Coffee Company in Fort Lauderdale has launched a few specialty coffee drinks this season, including their own version of the fall-flavored hot coffee beverage, dubbed the Honey Pumpkin Latte. No artificial flavors or syrups here: they roast pumpkins with a variety of fall spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) and use that to create a puree that is sweetened with honey. Over all that pumpkin and spice? There's also the Maple Walnut Cortado, made with toasted walnuts, pure Maple syrup, and a hint of clove. Both drinks are available until Thanksgiving.
The Pumpkin Stache Shake at Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar
You know about No Shave November, right? The month where men raise awareness of men’s health issues by growing a mustache during November? Well, Zinburger Wine & Burger bar has a shake for that. This year, a portion of sales from each pumpkin flavored shake they sell will benefit ZERO The End of Prostate Cancer, a national non-profit organization with the mission to end prostate cancer. The Pumpkin Stache Shake is available at all nine Zinburger East Coast locations, including Boca Raton. The Pumpkin Stache Shake combines vanilla bean ice cream blended with house-made pumpkin pie filling, is topped with whipped cream and pumpkin brittle, and served with a mustache straw.
The Smashing Pumpkin at Grille 401
At Grille 401, the trendy upscale eatery in downtown Fort Lauderdale, is all about fall this month. In the spirit of the season, Grille 401 will be offering the Smashing Pumpkin limited edition cocktail starting Thursday, October 15, through Thanksgiving. Far from a traditional seasonal cocktail, the drink will be sold for $12, made with a combination of Stoli Vanilla vodka, house-made pumpkin spice, a splash of house-infused pumpkin cream, and an extra-special ingredient — cayenne pepper. To top it off, the Smashing Pumpkin will be garnished with a marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crust. (An added bonus for the month of October: the restaurant is also celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month with two themed cocktails during the month of October including the Pink Lady made with muddled strawberry, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and Chopin vodka or the Tata-Tini, a classic martini made with Chopin vodka. For every Pink Lady and Tata-Tini purchased at $12, the restaurant will donate $1 to Glam-A-Thon, a local non-profit organization dedicated to taking the fear out of breast cancer and mobilizing its divas to make a true difference for those in financial need.)
The Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes (and milkshake) at Sweet Cravings NY
Sweet Cravings NY food truck owners Jana and Russ D'Agostino call their food truck a mobile bakery — but it's really the food truck of our dessert dreams. Sweet Cravings specializes in everything deliciously dessert related made from-scratch and in small batched, from cupcakes, cookies, and brownies to imported French macaroons, homemade cannoli, and more than 18 flavored milkshakes. There's also cup-shakes (you guessed it, a milkshake made with cupcakes) if you're into that sort of sugar-saturated punishment. Every September, the husband and wife team roll out a special seasonal drink through the end of November: their pumpkin spice cupcake made with roasted pumpkin, a blend of spices, and topped with a homemade vanilla cream cheese frosting. They're also used to make the pumpkin pie milkshake, the bottom portion of the pumpkin spice cupcake (sans frosting) blended with graham crackers, vanilla ice cream, and spices. It's guaranteed to taste just like pumpkin pie, especially when topped off with whipped cream.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.