By Brenden Bell
I set out to make butterbeer; did my online research, found a recipe that seemed reasonable, and began my quest to be the ultimate Harry Potter party host. What is to follow is the inexplicable series of events that led to a pretty alright butterbeer substitute.
Follow along, and you too can spice up your Harry Potter-themed parties.
Step 1: Finding the Ingredients
I researched several recipes, and decided this one was going to be the best.
The thing I DID NOT take into account? INGREDIENT ACCESSIBILITY!
Here’s the list of necessary ingredients:
4 cans cream soda
1/4 c. butterscotch syrup
1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. melted butter
Most of them were easy enough to find (sugar, vanilla, etc). Some of them a bit more challenging (what the heck is heavy cream?).
Then there was butterscotch syrup. My first major bump in the road. NO ONE HAD THIS. After searching from store to store for quite some time, I settled on salted caramel syrup (which, let’s be honest tasted great too).
I returned home with all of my ingredients, ready to make butterbeer.
Step 2: Measure by Measure
I stood at my table and read the first step:
“In a large bowl, combine cream soda and butterscotch syrup and stir.”
This is so simple, how can anyone mess this up? I thought to myself; I threw my head back with a guffaw of gleeful assurance.
As the cream soda poured into the bowl, I realised the soda I purchased isn’t cream soda…but CREAMING SODA. A subtle difference that I had paid no mind to at the grocery store.
In case you’ve reached this point of my tale and are confused; I am an American living in Australia at the moment. When I think of “cream soda” I think of a vanilla flavored, brown soda. What came pouring out of this creaming soda can was a berry flavoured, red soda.
I am stunned. I swallowed hard, and plunged a spoon into the soda-filled bowl and took a taste. It tasted enough like cream soda for me to feel comfortable to proceed. It is perhaps… a bit tangier than I originally anticipated.
For my fellow Aussies, keep an eye out for Golden Circle Creaming Soda if you’re wanting to do this properly. That brand is apparently the vanilla flavoured cream soda.
I poured in the proper amount of salted caramel syrup, stirred it, and moved on to the cream topping.
Step 3: Creme de la Creme
The next step read:
“In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in sugar and vanilla extract, then melted butter until no longer streaky. (Add more butter if desired).”
My advice to you would be to actually do what this says. I, being male and foolish, thought I could simply add all the ingredients together, whisk it gently and all would be well with the world.
This was the result.
With everything else that had gone wrong with this endeavour, the idea of being a great Harry Potter host was quickly becoming a distant memory. With time running out, and no Half-Blood Prince to save me, my new goal became to not become an embarrassment to my generation and gender.
I found a girl and asked her what I should do. She looked at me and asked me if I had whipped the cream before I put in the other ingredients. I turned red from embarrassment, remembering the instructions, and said no. She pointed me to the industrial mixer in the kitchen.
I moved to the kitchen-aid style mixer in my kitchen, attached the whisk head, and turned it to the highest setting. I was able to resurrect my cream, like a phoenix from the ashes!!!
There were the peaks referred to in the instructions, and an even, creamy consistency. It didn’t taste bad either.
Step 4: Combine the elements and enjoy.
I carefully took a dollop of the cream, and put it on top of a cup of the cream soda mixture, brought it to my lips and took a swig.
To my surprise, it actually tasted alright. Perhaps a bit tangier than I expected, but a drink that I can imagine Harry and his friends sharing over a chat at the Three Broomsticks.
Sure, it looks like something Dracula would drink, but I think it adds to the wizarding charm of it all.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video of one very satisfied customer.
It was a wild journey creating this butterbeer, not unlike Harry’s own adventures through his turbulent teenage years. I hope this inspires you to be creative, and perhaps step outside your comfort zone when planning your next Harry Potter themed party.