Starbucks Coffee a Cocktail Alternative?
What Have They Been Drinking?

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Starbucks has joined the growing list of chains intent on bowdlerizing adult beverage traditions, suggesting today that flavored coffee's a good substitute for alcohol.

Earlier this week, City of Ate chronicled the new low-cal cocktail trend, a backlash to drinks made with super sugary mixes. Rather than return to classic cocktail recipes, some bars are using agave syrup and artificial sweeteners in their margaritas and mojitos.

But a Starbucks rep who read our coverage decided the "skinny drinks" didn't go far enough:

"When I saw that you have written about beverages -- your Low-Cal Cocktails write-up in particular -- I thought that you might like to try the newest line of coffees from Starbucks. These new coffees are a great low-calorie alternative to an alcoholic beverage," Olga Walsh writes.

Call me rigid, but I'd be pretty disappointed if I ordered a whiskey drink and the bartender brought me a mug of vanilla-flavored coffee. If coffee's just a cocktail without the calories, alcohol and ice, I suppose coffee also counts as a cheeseburger without the meat, bun and cheese.

Starbucks' latest coffees may be fantastic. But I wish folks in the beverage industry would be slightly more precise: Just as apple martinis aren't martinis, and 700-calorie sugar bombs aren't really margaritas, coffee - no matter how delicious -- is not the virgin version of an alcoholic drink.

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