In true wannabe-wizard fashion, I recently spent a few days living my best (thoroughly muggle) life in the magical world of Universal Studios, mostly waving my wand around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I felt at home among the children donning black robes and scarves in 85-degree heat, and visited Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and The Three Broomsticks to my heart's content.
While I certainly enjoyed feasting on chocolate frogs and traditional shepherd's pie, let's be honest: I was there for the butterbeer. Any self-respecting Potterhead knows that butterbeer is the ultimate treat of the Wizarding World: the one our favorite characters gulp down during their most joyous celebrations. Luckily, when it comes to this frothy, buttery beverage, the folks at Universal Studios got it right.
The drink, conceived mostly by Universal's corporate executive chef, Steven Jayson, is thoroughly J. K. Rowling-approved. After scouring the books for clues and going through an extensive development process, Jayson himself presented the beverage (and some other wizarding treats) to Rowling on a trip to Edinburgh.
According to Jayson, Rowling's response to the beverage was overwhelmingly positive. "I know I wrote about this, but I didn't know exactly what I thought it would taste like," she said. "But this is it. This is perfect."
And perfect it is. Although Universal won't share the exact recipe, the flavor is a magical, nonalcoholic combination of warm butterscotch; fizzy cream soda; and a frothy, creamy topping that guests can't get enough of. Despite its popularity, Universal refuses to sell it anywhere else in the parks, valuing the Wizarding World's authenticity. Since the Harry Potter park's opening in 2010, millions of butterbeers have been sold, and new iterations of the classic drink have been created, from hot butterbeer to butterbeer ice cream.
Although it's indisputably delicious in all its versions, when you're talking about consuming this much sugar, choices need to be made wisely. Don't waste butterbeer's golden sweetness on the wrong magical treat. Here are my unofficial rankings of every butterbeer and butterbeer-flavored product available in the park.
Now grab your wand and consume at your leisure.
⑥ Butterbeer Pot de Crème
This newer menu item is a small mason jar full of butterbeer-flavored mousse topped with cream. It's still a delicious dessert offering, but it's the least loyal to the books of anything on this list. If you're going for butterbeer, stick with the classics.
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⑤ Butterbeer Fudge
A butterbeer beverage is extremely sweet already, and something about biting into it in fudge form scream’s a dentist's worst nightmare. Grab some chocolate fudge at Honeyduke's instead and get your butterbeer fix elsewhere.
④ Butterbeer Ice Cream
This dreamy, creamy soft-serve ice cream with streaks of golden butterbeer flavor is delicious, especially when you're walking around with a cone on a hot day. You can grab it at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley, and forever mourn Fortescue's death at the hands of the Death Eaters.
③ Frozen Butterbeer
This one's controversial, as frozen is many a guest's preferred version of the drink, but hear me out. I'm a Harry Potter loyalist, and this isn't how the characters drink butterbeer in the books. Yes, Florida is hot and sweaty and the butterbeer slushy is extremely refreshing, but if Harry, Ron and Hermione can do without it, so can I!
② Hot Butterbeer
Man, this stuff is good. It truly warms your soul, and it's many of the Hogwarts students’ favorite way to enjoy butterbeer. Still, it's incredibly sweet, and Orlando doesn't often get cold enough for it to be truly enjoyable.
① Traditional Butterbeer
The original and the best. (Butterbeer creator Jayson agrees with me, I might add.) This drink is perfection, with its sweet, bubbly, refreshing golden elixir, and its mystically creamy, frothy top; it's the ultimate way to spend the day in Hogsmeade. Plus, it's the one thing that helps me get over the fact that my Hogwarts acceptance letter never came.
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