Drink this decadent pumpkin spice milkshake while contemplating seasonal creep

It's packed with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cream and a hit of espresso powder

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published September 11, 2021 5:30PM (EDT)

Pumpkin spiced drink in autumnal table setting (Getty Images/5PH)
Pumpkin spiced drink in autumnal table setting (Getty Images/5PH)

"Seasonal creep" is a term folks like to throw around these days, usually in reference to big-box department stores stocking up on and displaying holiday paraphernalia — Christmas trees, stockings, jack-o'-lanterns, wreaths that look like turkeys — months earlier than the actual holiday itself. 

Starbucks, the global coffee chain, has made an event of season creep year after year with the release of its fall beverages, most notably the pumpkin spice latte (or PSL, for those in the know). The beverage itself is steeped in controversy. As Vox's Rebecca Jennings put it, "since its inception in 2003, the pumpkin spice latte has become something of a straw man for discussions about capitalism, seasonal creep and the meaning of  'basic,' resulting in widespread hatred for an otherwise innocuous beverage." 

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However, more than 200 million cups are sold annually, and there tends to be a less-than-subtle undercurrent of misogyny to the PSL hate. Society as a whole has a problem with decrying the things many girls and women like — from musical artists, to the entire genre of romance novels, to feminine-coded coffee drinks — as vapid. But it's been a rough year, and I don't want to talk about misogyny right now; I want to talk about milkshakes. 

While Starbucks released their fall beverages on Aug. 24 this year (a day earlier than in 2020), I'm still in peak summer mode. It's still in the upper 80's and low 90's across large swaths of the U.S., and a steaming-hot cup of coffee is not on my radar. 

That said, the flavors — cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cream and coffee — sounded pretty divine. I had baking spices in my pantry, espresso powder on the counter and an unfinished pint of vanilla ice cream in the freezer. I thought, "Why not?" After some trial and error, I finally came up with the perfect PSL Milkshake, a beverage to enjoy as the seasons continue to creep. 


Recipe: PSL Milkshake 

Serves 1 


  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 3 tablespoons of half-and-half 
  • 2 teaspoons of espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Whipped cream and cinnamon stick for garnish 


  • In a small blender, combine the ice cream, half-and-half, espresso powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Pulse until fully blended. 
  • Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick. 


If you want to go more of a pumpkin pie route, feel free to add in 3 teaspoons of canned pumpkin pie filling, as well. 


By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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Dessert Fall Ice Cream Milkshakes Psl Pumpkin Pumpkin Spice Recipe Starbucks