Butterbeer– An iconic beverage, prominently featured in the Harry Potter series and hugely popular at the Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Having heard that the recipe had been approved by J.K. Rowling herself I was eager to try it, and upon arrival at the park (after squee-ing over the storefronts and going on several rides) my friends and I purchased both varieties available– regular and frozen. We watched as the glasses were filled and topped with creamy foam from a special spigot (the bartender said that he was actually forbidden to sell it without the foam because it was such an integral part of the drink), and took our prizes to a table to taste.
Blech, was it sweet. Waaaaaayyyy too sweet. There were five of us splitting the drinks and we couldn’t come close to finishing them. And the drink contained neither butter nor beer, which seemed wrong given the name. But then– a ray of hope appeared– we had an idea. The Boar’s Head Pub, where we’d bought the sickly sweet swill, also served its own signature dark beer and maybe– just maybe– the stuff could be salvaged. We mixed the dark beer 50/50 with the sugary butterbeer, tasted it, and saw that it was good. And I decided then and there to perfect the recipe for my own butterbeer once I got home.
Internet research yielded several suggestions for key ingredients, including store-bought caramel sauce, cream soda, whipped cream vodka, butter flavoring, Toriani syrups, and even (shudder) melted butter.* After a little experimentation I arrived at the following recipe, which is refreshing, mildly alcoholic (of course), and has a nice balance between sweet and bitter. Not child-friendly of course, but let’s face it, a kid would probably guzzle down the original park version without a second thought.
*I just can’t wrap my mind around this one, since melted butter would immediately congeal into tiny hard lumps upon being mixed with a cold drink, and I can’t think of anything more disgusting.
Butterbeer (serves 1)
1 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps (I used Buttershots brand)
2 oz. cream soda
5 oz. brown ale or other dark beer (stout is excellent)
3 Tbs. vanilla ice cream, melted
Combine the first three ingredients in a glass. Dollop the melted ice cream on top and serve immediately. Just a heads-up, adding the ice cream can cause some serious foaming. (that top photo is what happened immediately after adding the ice cream below) Feel free to adjust the proportion of cream soda to beer to your taste, the recipe is just a guideline.
Admittedly, since developing this recipe I’ve become kind of an evangelist on the topic, and friends of mine know that whenever we see butterbeer offered on a drinks menu I’m going to expound upon my “best” recipe at some point in the evening. Case in point: I’m fairly sure that at least half a dozen people at Misti-Con this year were cornered by me and forced to listen to my spiel on why the butterbeer on offer at the bar (Pinnacle whipped cream vodka, caramel sauce, cream soda, and whipped cream topping) was inferior to my own. Sadly, the bar did not offer dark beer or I would’ve mixed some up myself and handed out samples.
In any case, if you’ve ever thought about making your own butterbeer, give this one a shot (no pun intended). You won’t regret it!