Make Your Own Harry Potter Butterbeer

In honor of this Friday's release of the long-awaited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Virgin found it fitting to try to recreate one of the most magically delicious-sounding libations from the film series: Butterbeer.

There are a wealth of resources on the subject, including a dedicated Wiki entry and a frothy recreation whipped up at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, but none seem to have the exact recipe found in the enchanted world of J.K. Rowling's books. Why?

It's a made-up drink, of course, so even Rowling doesn't know the recipe. According to the author, Butterbeer tastes like a less sugary version of butterscotch. It seems to have a slight intoxicating effect as well (not a big deal, as the Brits aren't as uptight about underage drinking as Yanks). 

Click through for three ways to make Butterbeer just in time for Thursday's midnight release of the final flick.  

Recipe #1: Basic Butterbeer

  • 1 part butterscotch flavored Schnapps
  • 7 parts cream soda

This simple recipe is found all over the Interwebs, occasionally with the substitution of birch beer or root beer for the cream soda. In keeping with the lighter color seen in the films and the "less-sickly butterscotch flavor" described by Rowling, The Virgin opted for the original version.

To make it, pour a shot of butterscotch-flavored (or "flavoured," for you Brits) schnapps into a large mug and top with cream soda. Tip: Pour at an angle and you'll get a nice foamy, head. Granted, it'll last for all of two seconds, so if you want longer-lasting foam top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Recipe #2: Sweet and Innocent Butterbeer

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1 dash cloves (optional)
  • 1 scoop vanilla bean ice cream
  • 2 cups club soda

1. To make the butterscotch syrup, melt butter in a small metal saucepan over low to medium heat. Sprinkle in cinnamon and cloves.

2. Add brown sugar and stir until melted and smooth.

3. Add the vanilla ice cream and whisk until mixture is fully combined. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

4. Pour club soda into a tall frosty mug and add butterscotch/ice cream mixture slowly, allowing the fizzy reaction to calm before adding more. Top with additional ice cream if desired.

Recipe #3: Hot and Sassy Butterbeer

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon butterscotch schnapps
  • 2 cups cream soda
  • Cinnamon sticks, for garnish

This recipe is loosely based on the guesstimation posted by Fox News, AP, and a myriad of other online resources following the opening of the new Harry Potter theme park in Florida. My take in it offers an alcoholic kick that could've been responsible for Hermione Granger's tipsy behavior in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

1. Melt butter in a large metal saucepan over low heat. When fully melted, stir in brown sugar and mix until fully dissolved.

2. Add liqueur and stir until blended.

3.  Pour whipping cream into pan and whisk over low heat until slightly frothy and fully combined. Remove from heat.

4. Slowly pour in soda, allowing the foam to settle before adding more.

5. Pour the finished mixture into toddy glasses and serve warm with a cinnamon stick to garnish.

The Results: The Virgin blind-tested the three recipes on some handy victims, er, "volunteers" over the weekend. Surprisingly, despite the use of real butter and sugar in the second and third recipes, our testers described the first recipe as having the strongest butterscotch flavor -- though perhaps that was the buzz talking.

Cold Butterbeer was preferred over hot, and one volunteer said the non-alcoholic Butterbeer had a "sharp, bitter mineral taste" likely owing to the club soda. As simple as it was, the basic alcohol and cream soda recipe (#1) won out for taste and color. It wasn't sickeningly sweet, and the addition of whipped cream or ice cream added the cloudy look and foamy head familiar from the flicks.

Now if only there was a real Leaky Cauldron in Phoenix for us to enjoy it in -- hint, hint.

Post your own favorite Butterbeer recipe in the comments below.

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