After a long day strolling through Diagon Alley, these two reporters were looking forward to sitting down with a frothy pint of butterbeer, a favorite refreshment of young wizards and witches served at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
In the Harry Potter books, the magical brew is a warm drink that heats you up from the inside, and the taste has been described by J.K. Rowling in interviews as “a less-sickly butterscotch.”
At least three different vendors served up the sugary stuff at The Party That Shall Not Be Named, offering three different interpretations. And we had the difficult job of deciding which was best.
We approached this task methodically, deciding on a one to four rating scale based on the creamy factor, the use of butterscotch, overall taste and whether or not each brew could produce that warm and tingly effect.
At Potter Sandwich Works (Potbelly’s being its Muggle alias), butterbeer costs $2.65 and is made of ice cream, cream soda and butterscotch syrup. The butterscotch taste was strong, and ice cream made the drink creamy. A tasty float, true to J.K. Rowling’s word. We gave it a 2.5.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, known most days as Cookie Dough Creations, took a surprising take on butterbeer by using ginger beer in its float. Ice cream made the $4 beverage creamy, and the ginger had our throats tingling pleasantly. Less conventional, but delicious. 3.5.
Arbor Vitae Java & Juice set up a stand outside near Anderson’s Bookshop, where they too kept the butterbeer flowing. Their drink, also $4, was made of root beer, whipped cream, butterscotch syrup and ice. The first taste was like watered-down root beer, and we had to stir the drink vigorously in order to blend the whipped cream. Weak butterscotch taste and weaker tingle. 1.5.
3.5 points to Fortescue in the TriButterbeer tournament. There wasn’t any butterscotch, but since the ingredients aren’t actually mentioned in the books, we let it slide.
Enjoy a butterbeer float, Harry's favorite treat, at Potter's Sandwich Works/Potbelly Sandwich Works from noon to 2 p.m. Friday at 236 S. Washington St. Other Hogsmeade dining establishments serving butterbeer and butterbeer floats all day include Arbor Vitae Java & Juice at 131 W. Jefferson Dr. and Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor/Cookie Dough Creations at 22 W. Chicago Ave.