Butterbeer is one of those things that many fans of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series have been curious about since the third book – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – came out in July 1999. It is described as a rich, sweet, warming drink – rather like a somewhat diluted butterscotch topping – served in tankards or steins at such watering holes as The Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron.
Over the years, Potterheads have been trying to approximate the drink in their home kitchens. Some versions are as easy as pie and have involved melting caramels into full cream milk. Others are stupendously elaborate and call for making caramel from scratch – a bloody fussy thing, really – and floating full-fat cream on top of the drink in a manner similar to the way Irish coffee is served.
The recipe I tried out for my own home-butterbeer experiment actually came from the Pottermore fan group on Facebook. It is something that stands in the middle ground of the use-what-ingredients-you-have/make-it-all-from-scratch debate: you bung stuff that you keep in either your fridge or pantry into the pot, heat it up, whisk it like fury till it gets all frothy, et voila – butterbeer!
I confess at this point that I did a bit of a tweak the first time I whisked up a mug of the stuff. I’m not one for overly sweet beverages, so I cut the sugar and butter down to half the amount called for in the original recipe and tossed in a tablespoonful of dark rum for kick. The end result was a creamy, smooth, just-sweet-enough sipper that warmed me up from head to toe; it was, to be frank, perfect for the stormy weather we’ve been having in this part of the world of late.
For my second attempt, I made the drink to my recipe but skipped the rum and added a packet of instant white coffee. The end result was a rich, bittersweet drink that went down easily and kept me awake despite the numbing cold.
The beach bunnies can gripe all they want about the blustery winds, the driving rain, and the complete lack of sun – but I pay them no mind. I love the rain – besides, I have butterbeer to keep me nice and toasty warm. :)