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Six Can't-Miss Seasonal Tulsa Treats

Move over, Pumpkin Spice. Local coffee shops offer a variety of fun winter drinks.



Hot cocoa at Ida Red General Store & Soda Fountain in the Tulsa Arts District.

It’s that time of year again.The air is cool and crisp, taking on a faded, ethereal Instagram-filter quality.Suddenly, the world is a sea of Northface jackets and Timberland boots, and, heaven knows, nothing goes better with Northface than a good old-fashioned pumpkin spice latte.

But what if this year, just once, as you begin to deck the halls and pretend like you lost your Fitbit but everyone knows you really just shoved it in a drawer, you shirk off the basic-ness of that old pumpkin spice standby and reach out for something new?

We’re not asking you to give up that cup of pumpkin love, but if you are considering branching out this season, we’ve put together a list of six local can’t-miss holiday alternatives to pumpkin spice worthy of dietary transgression.

1. Christmas Spirit at Shades of Brown

Over at Shades of Brown, the chumpkin gets all the love, and rightly so—it’s a pumpkin spice chai latte to make angels weep. But if the chumpkin is from Heaven, the Christmas Spirit is straight from the North Pole. It’s the kind of holiday drink happy little elves enjoy while they’re crafting toys and jamming to Bob Marley as elves are wont to do.

There are usually two camps of people: those who love eggnog and would not be above drinking it straight from the carton, and those who find eggnog to be possibly the most abhorrent foodstuff under creation. But the Christmas Spirit uses eggnog flavoring sparingly, blending milk with the ideal coffee-to-nog ratio so that the result is a frozen latte with an almost milkshake quality. Topped with whipped cream and nutmeg, this lovely little treat is a spirit-lifter on those dark winter nights. It’s also available sans caffeine for those already feeling jazzed up enough on holiday vibes.

2. Polar Bear at Coffee House on Cherry Street

CHOCS has long been a terrific place to unwind while escaping all the hullabaloo of the downtown scene. The polar bear is the perfect coffee after a long day of wassailing, whatever that is. This crafty coffee is a dreamy concoction made with espresso, milk, white chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla that pairs nicely with gift giving, warm hugs, and their fabulous selection of holiday pies.

3. Café Viennois at Le Louvre

Le Louvre is a darling authentic French cafe located at 83rd and Memorial offering a lovely selection of boissons chaudes (hot beverages). Their café viennois is a perfect beverage for those who like their coffee a little on the fru fru side but don’t want the fru fru-ness to overwhelm the richness of a good, strong coffee.

The viennois consists of a double shot of espresso topped with chantilly, a rich whipped cream. Chantilly is thicker than traditional whipped cream and sweetened with vanilla, which means it sweetens the espresso as you drink your coffee and is basically everything. 

4. Caramel Steamer at Gypsy Coffee House

Gypsy Coffee House has been serving up quality joe since the end of the ‘90s, and it has always offered up a decent slice of legit coolness while maintaining a manageable hipster factor. Its mellow vibe is enhanced by a college town artsiness and artful coffees to match. Some coffee shops can be replete with snooty baristas, like the local spot that suggested the perfect alternative to pumpkin spice was a return to black coffee for the holidays, as truly good coffee possesses its own rich flavors and does not require added flavoring and sugar.

Gypsy’s talented baristas have no such judgments or qualms about loading you up with all the sugar and whipped cream your little basic heart desires, and that is why we are nominating these guys as the perfect place to stop over for a delicious caramel steamer. Essentially steamed milk served with caramel flavoring and topped with plentiful whipped cream, this is kind of like a more delicate alternative to hot cocoa.

5. Hot Cocoa at Ida Red

If you never got to visit longtime Tulsa staple Steve’s Sundry, it was a darling little bookstore over on 26th and Harvard with an old-fashioned soda fountain in back where they served the same delicious malts since 1947 until their closing.

For those of us still pining for the good old days of frozen treats at Steve’s formica countertop, Ida Red General Store & Soda Fountain is doing a pretty solid job of filling that gap right down to the bright red stools, and their rich hot cocoa would be suitable for a cold evening in the Gryffindor house. Enjoy this classic chocolate treat en route to Winterfest or on your way to a show downtown in the Tulsa Arts District.

6. Mexicocoa at Mod’s

Mod’s Coffee and Crepes is known for having an adventurous and fun-loving side when it comes to food and drink, and the Mexicocoa epitomizes the sassiness that has made them a Tulsa fave. The Mexicocoa is one of twelve hot cocoas on the menu. This cocoa is a fun combination of vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper and comes topped with steamed milk.

Mod’s also offers a banana nut bread chai and pumpkin pie chai if that is more your cup of...chai.

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