A Better Butterbeer Recipe With or Without Alcohol

Make Butterbeer at Home
S&C Design Studios
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Butterbeer is the preferred drink of wizards everywhere and after one taste you'll realize why it's so popular. It is the delicious beverage enjoyed in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books and there's no need to travel to the "Wizarding World" to enjoy this delicious drink. It's easy to make at home for both wizards and muggles alike.

You will find an endless array of butterbeer recipes. Some get rather elaborate and others are simple. Each is an attempt to create the drink Rowling vaguely describes in her books. This particular butterbeer recipe takes inspiration from a few of those.

The recipe uses common ingredients and anyone can mix it up. It adds cinnamon and nutmeg to give it a little more dimension. The butter takes some of the sweetness out of the butterscotch as well. While it retains that sweet, rich flavor found in all butterbeer, it's not too sweet and has a very nice balance of flavor.

You can serve butterbeer a few different ways and you'll find plenty of tips to guide you. It can be served cold or hot and both have a vanilla cream soda base topped with a luscious cream. You can also keep it non-alcoholic or—because not all wizards are under 21—you can spike it with butterscotch schnapps, rum, whipped vodka, or even Irish whiskey.

No matter how you take your butterbeer, you're in for a real treat. 

What You'll Need

How to Make It

To Make the Butterbeer Batter

Butterbeer begins by making the creamy batter that will float on top of the cream soda. Mix it according to the recipe and it will create four to six drinks, though it can easily be multiplied. Store it in the refrigerator or invite friends over for a party.

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cream, spices, butterscotch, and softened butter.
  2. Whip with a whisk for 2 minutes to mix. You don't want to whip so long that it becomes a whipped cream, but it should thicken and increase in volume slightly.
  1. Place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to give it a good chill.

The batter can be refrigerated for up to two days in a well-sealed container, though it is best fresh. Also, always keep in mind the expiration date on your cream.

When It's Time for Butterbeer

You want a frosty mug or tall glass for a cold butterbeer. If you don't already store some glassware in the freezer (highly recommended for the best drinks), you'll need to allow some time for your serving glasses to freeze. For a quicker chill, rinse each glass with cold water and place them into the coldest part of your freezer for at least 2 hours.

  1. Fill your frosty glass about 2/3 full with cold vanilla cream soda.
  2. Pour the chilled butterbeer batter over the back of a spoon and into the glass. It will naturally rise to the top and float on the soda. Make this layer as thick as you like, but go slow because it will grow fast.
  3. Serve it with a straw or drink it straight from the glass. You are risking a foamy mustache without the straw, though!

To Make Hot Butterbeer

Using the same batter for the cold version of butterbeer, it's very easy to serve this drink warm. You will simply heat up the batter and soda separately. Do this very gently so your cream doesn't curdle and your soda doesn't lose all of its carbonation.

You can use either the stovetop or the microwave. For the stovetop, warm both ingredients over low heat and stir the cream almost continuously. You do not want either ingredient to come to a boil, they just need to be warmed. If using the microwave, warm them in small increments. It should take less than 2 minutes for each ingredient.

Just as a frosty glass improves the cold butterbeer experience, a warmed glass will create a better warm butterbeer. Use a heat-proof glass such as an Irish coffee glass or a coffee mug. While you're warming your ingredients, fill the glass with very hot water (tea kettle water works great) and let it set. Before pouring the drink, dump the water and you're left with a warm serving glass.

Once your ingredients and glass are warmed, build the drink using the same method described above for the cold version.

Soda Then Batter!

If there is a time when the order of the pour is critical, it is with butterbeer. It's very important that you pour the soda, then the batter. If you pour the batter first, the two ingredients will instantly foam up as the soda hits the cream.

This foam will quickly fill your glass and you will not get nearly enough soda. It will not settle like the foam on beer or soda, either. Instead, you'll be left with something like the foam of a root beer float with just a hint of soda underneath.

This is not entirely bad and if you accidentally pour out of order, all is not lost. You just won't have a drinkable beverage like the butterbeer we're going for. This creamy, carbonated foam is actually quite delicious and you might want to add a scoop of ice cream on top and turn this mishap into a surprise dessert.

Make an Alcoholic Butterbeer

Should you be in the mood to create an alcoholic butterbeer you have many options and they're all easy. If only adults will be drinking, you can substitute 2 ounces of butterscotch schnapps for the sauce and mix it right into the batter.

Rather than spike the cream, you can add liquor directly into the glass. Many spiked butterbeer recipes add a shot of rum and it is a nice complement. A sweet whipped cream vodka is another good choice.

Yet, one of the better options takes a hint from an old Irish drink that may have inspired J.K. Rowling's butterbeer in the first place. This beverage combined melted butter with beer and sometimes Irish whiskey also made it into the mix.

It is the whiskey that would make a great addition to your butterbeer because it will contrast the drink's sweetness and give it a good, hearty background. Try it for yourself and add a 1 1/2-ounce shot of your favorite Irish whiskey to the soda before topping it off with the batter.