16 February, 2012

What? Butterbeer (From Harry Potter) Is Non-Alcoholic? We'll Have To Remedy That!

Image courtesy of wizardingworldpark.com.
I had no idea! I mean, when I read about and watched the Harry Potter teenagers drinking something with the word "beer" in it while in a pub, I was a little taken aback. Personally, I do not have a problem with a youngster having a little wine with their family at dinner or a weak beer at a wedding, but in most of the United States (especially in urban California) you would NEVER see anyone under the age of twenty-one in an establishment that exclusively serves alcohol! [For anyone unfamiliar with our drinking laws here, in most states, a minor (anyone under twenty-one) can not even set foot in a venue selling alcohol unless food is also being dished out.] And then I remembered that ginger beer is neither beer, nor alcoholic as well. Hmmm...I was still intrigued. 

Now admittedly, I was equally thrown off by the fact that butterbeer is not something that is actually drunk in the United Kingdom (silly American!) even though (according to Wikipedia) there were references to "buttered beer" in a book called The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, published in London in AD 1588 and made from beer, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cloves and butter back in Tudor times. Another old recipe published by Robert May in AD 1664 from his recipe book The Accomplisht Cook, calls for licorice root and anise seeds to be added. I guess that means that I will not be drinking pumpkin juice or firewhiskey like in the books/movies either. Dang-it!

Image courtesy of wizardingworldpark.com.

But wait! Butterbeer DOES exist! Apparently J.K. Rowling said in an interview with Bon Appétit magazine that the drink that she sort of invented, tastes a bit like butterscotch. Well, there are lots of Harry Potter fans out there and even more foodies, so armed with Rowling's incite and the old recipes of yore on one hand, and on the other hand some creativity and yearning to have their favorite imaginary world come to life, butterbeer was born (again)! It is now even served at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Orlando in Florida where the recipe was taste tested and approved by Rowling herself.

 

Still image from video courtesy of hungrynationtv.com.
A really neat video blog that I came across called Working Class Foodies has taken it upon themselves to make their own version of butterbeer in addition to making an instructional film about it so that you can do it yourself at home (see above). Oh, and they made it "adult style" by adding some bourbon! They even have links to butterbeer food pairings at the end! This brother and sister team in New York City consisting of Rebecca and Max Lando - and their dog Humphrey - have done some other smashingly good videos that I also highly recommend, like learning how to braise short ribs or make pumpkin waffles.

FYI...I imagine dark rum would also work nicely in the butterbeer, or you could reduce the brown sugar and add an amaretto (almond liqueur) like Disaronno, Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), or rich Bailey's Irish Cream. Also, I did find a site called Castles & Cooks that has gone about creating a few recipes for alcoholic beverages either talked about in the books/movies (like firewhiskey), or made them up entirely in homage to some of the story's characters. I'll have a "Dark Mark" please!

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