When I visited the Dunkin’ Donuts test kitchens this week to sample their new spring and summer menu items, I was ready to taste some fancy doughnuts, sip some flavored iced coffee, even learn a thing or two about pairing doughnuts with iced coffee. So imagine my surprise when one of the Dunkin’ chefs—who had, mere seconds earlier, led us through a tasting of the brand’s new bakery items matched with complementary drinks—introduced a brand new menu item by pulling out a giant can of energy drink and placing it next to an extra-large red Strawberry Coolatta. But there I was, and there it was.
This new drink is called the Dunkin’ Energy Punch Powered by Monster Energy, and according to a description provided to me by Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s a “combination of one can of Monster Energy and classic Dunkin’ Coolatta fruited flavors Blue Raspberry or Strawberry, served over ice.” That means when you order this drink, the employee behind the counter takes a cup and fills it with both an entire can of Monster Energy drink and what is essentially a fruit-flavored slushie. It’s really that simple, and it tastes exactly how you think it will.
The overwhelming taste of the Dunkin’ Energy Punch is sweet, with a little acidity from the energy drink. You know as soon as you smell it that it’s going to give you a buzz of some kind, be it a sugar high or a jolt of artificial energy—and even after a single sip, I felt ready to hit the streets like the Boston Bruins had just won the Stanley Cup.
But that's kind of what I love about this new drink from Dunkin’ Donuts. Taking a sip brought me back to a very strange time in my life: freshman year of college, when much of my caloric intake was made up of dining hall frozen yogurt, hard liquor, cheap beer, and large iced coffees and free doughnuts from the Dunkin' closest to campus. It was while on spring break in Tampa, Florida, my friend introduced me to the concept of spiking your Coolatta with vodka, and my life was never the same. (I should also probably note here that I’m not necessarily endorsing the act of spiking your non-alcoholic Dunkin’ beverages at any age, but like, I won’t tell the folks at Dunkin’ what we’re up to if you don’t.)
And despite its heavily branded name, the Dunkin' Energy Punch Powered by Monster Energy was actually created by Dunkin’ employees at the franchises, who were messing around with the drinks in the same ways that I used to back in college. When the folks at Dunkin’ headquarters heard that employees were adding Monster Energy drinks to Coolattas on the regular, they figured that they might as well turn this already-enjoyed combination into an official menu item.
So unlike, say, the Sweet and Salted Cold Brew, which was developed at Dunkin' headquarters after researchers realized the combination of a sweet and salty beverage tested well with customers, this Energy Punch comes from the front lines of Dunkin'. And this is the Dunkin’ Donuts I fell in love with during college, the one that's welcoming to everyone and knows exactly when you want when you're hungover and asking for an extra-large iced regular with extra, extra sugar. It's the one that was parodied on Saturday Night Live, with Casey Affleck sporting a Bruins cap and shouting, “I love Dunkin’, guy!”
The Dunkin’ Energy Punch Powered by Monster Energy will be available in select markets in the northeast and in West Palm Beach and Miami, Florida, starting on Monday, March 27. If you live somewhere else though, you can always make your own. Just pick up a Monster from the refrigerators by the register, order an extra-large Coolatta, mix together, sip from that orange and pink straw, and live your most-hyped life.