There’s nothing like winter in New York City to make you want to pour hot alcohol down your throat. Last year, I experimented with a variety of spiced, mulled wines. This year, I’ve been dreaming of butterbeer. And I’m not interested in the kiddie theme park variety made of cream soda and syrup from a squeeze bottle; I want grown-ass woman butterbeer. (Note: I do recognize the irony of this statement, considering butterbeer comes from the world’s most popular young adult fiction series, but I stand by my desire.)
Since Dumbledore taught me that it does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, I’ve been working very hard to make my dream of hot, alcoholic butterbeer a reality. And I’ve been wildly successful! I have found the perfect butterbeer recipe. Now when I look in the Mirror of Erised, I just see myself holding socks.
Although there are literally hundreds of butterbeer recipes out there, only a limited number meet the criteria I’m interested in: must be hot, must be alcoholic. With the aid of a simple summoning spell (Accio Google Search Engine!), I located eight very strong contenders. And then made all of them.
Here are my notes.
1. Madam Rosmerta’s Butterbeer – Hans Haupt
Ingredients: Guinness, butternut schnapps, gingerale, butter, egg yolk, honey, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, nutmeg
Taste notes: Magical. Sweet but not too sweet, and I absolutely love the cold froth of the melting ice cream in contrast with the warm beverage.
2. Old Fashioned Butterbeer – Obedient Ingredients
Ingredients: Ale, butter, egg yolk, sugar, nutmeg
Taste notes: I can taste the beer in this one. It’s not bad, but recipe-wise, it seems so unnecessary to give measurements by weight. I’m not at Gringotts, measuring gold; I’m in my kitchen, measuring butter. Why can’t we just round that awkward 1 and 1/3 Tbsp butter up to 2 and call it a day?
3. Dairy-Free Butterbeer – Dairy Free Cooking
Ingredients: Dark beer, soy milk, soy margarine, egg yolk, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger
Taste notes: Smooth — which it better be, because the recipe had me whisk it forever. Pretty great tasting, but not really what I imagined butterbeer tasting like. My roommate Taty thinks the flavor is similar to the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. They’re… not wrong.
4. Butterscotch Butterbeer – Pop Sugar
Ingredients: Pumpkin ale, butterscotch sauce
Taste notes: This one has kind of a sharp taste. The butterscotch flavor is strong, to the point of overwhelming everything else. Didn’t love it.
5. Bourbon Butterbeer – Tablespoon
Ingredients: Ginger beer, bourbon, apple cider, butterscotch sauce, butter, vanilla
Taste notes: Really good, really alcoholic. Roommate Claudia’s comment: “Sweet baby Jesus, this is the best thing that has been inside me all day.” I would totally drink this drink again.
6. Hard Apple Cider Butterbeer – Food52
Ingredients: Hard apple cider, gingerale, butter, brown suger, heavy cream, sea salt, vanilla extract, whipped cream
Taste notes: Fine, but in comparison to the other recipes, nothing special. Very apple cider-y, like something you’d drink on a hay ride while attempting to chat up Fleur Delacour.
7. Three Part Butterbeer – The Roaming Kitchen
Ingredients: Ginger beer, dark rum, butter, heavy cream, sea salt, brown sugar, fresh ginger, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, fresh nutmeg
Incredible. This is definitely the best tasting recipe. However, the drink is so much work to make! And who has expensive vanilla beans lying around? I feel like that’s an unreasonable request.
8. British Ale Butterbeer – Food in Literature
Ingredients: British ale, butter, yolk, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice
Taste notes: Sweet. Super creamy. Tastes like pumpkin pie, or maybe a chai latte. Comforting.
The best tasting brew was Cristina Sciarra’s three part butterbeer recipe at The Roaming Kitchen. If you’re a butterbeer perfectionist with the patience to gather all the ingredients and engage in a time consuming, multi-step process to create liquid heaven, this is your recipe! Go forth.
That said: runner-up Hans Haupt’s recipe for Madam Rosmerta’s butterbeer is almost as good as the three-parter, but there’s way less work involved. Like, okay: this butterbeer is the taste equivalent of sitting in front of a lit fireplace in the Gryffindor common room, sharing a blanket with Hermione and chatting about your favorite books. The other butterbeer is the same experience, but you can see Crookshanks out of the corner of your eye and it looks like he’s coming over to let you pet him. Does that make sense? Both are excellent options, and in either case, you will have a very enjoyable experience! One is just slightly better, and you might not even think so, depending on how you feel about cats. So due to my strong feelings about diminishing returns (and dismayed incredulity over the cost of vanilla beans), Madam Rosmerta’s butterbeer is what I’ll be adopting as my personal house recipe.
Third place goes to the Tablespoon’s bourbon butterbeer. This is the one you want to drink if you’re trying to get warm-and-fuzzy, fall-down, think-you’re-a-wizard drunk. No judgment. We’ve all been there. And truly, we are all winners when there is any variety of hot alcoholic butterbeer to be had.
Best Butterbeer Ever Recipe
adapted from Madam Rosmerta’s Butterbeer on Hans Haupt
- 200 mL gingerale (I like Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew for its extra ginger-y kick)
- 100 mL Guinness
- 85 mL butterscotch schnapps
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
- a pinch of cinnamon
- a dash of nutmeg
- Optional: additional freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
- Optional: dark rum to taste
- Optional: homemade butterscotch sauce to coat the bottom of your mug
- Pour the gingerale and Guinness into a deep set pan over medium heat. While you’re waiting for it to boil, whisk the following ingredients together in a separate bowl: egg yolk, butterscotch schnapps, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Constant vigilance! When the gingerale-Guinness mixture reaches a boil, immediately remove it from the heat.
- Ladle a spoonful of the hot brew into your egg yolk mixture. Mix, then repeat several times. The objective here is to bring up the temperature of the mixture without cooking the eggs.
- After five or six large spoonfuls, pour the egg mixture into the pan with gingerale and Guinness. Set the heat to low and let it simmer for five minutes.
- Add butter and whisk. Once it’s melted and completely incorporated, turn off the heat. You can add dark rum to taste at this point, if you like your butterbeer on the boozier side.
- Pour into a mug and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. If you want to fancy it up, a spoonful of homemade butterscotch sauce on the bottom of your mug is a nice addition. Freshly grated nutmeg on top of the ice cream is also awesome, if you have it!