One could argue that J.K. Rowling‘s greatest contribution was making us believe in a world of wizards and magic, but I would say her greatest accomplishment was the creation of butterbeer. As recounted in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—my first experience with butterbeer felt the same, “Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.”
Armed with my high tolerance for sugary snacks, on a recent visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, I decided to take on the Herculean task of tasting every single butterbeer menu item in one day.
Early in the morning, the anxiety of attempting these personal butterbeer trials I had foolishly proposed quickly set in. I decided to take notes throughout the day so I could remember my exact feelings of the experience, for better or worse. Would I regret this mock-science experiment? Let’s go to the play-by-play of my day and find out.
Breakfast: Butterbeer at the Fountains of Fair Fortune
Butterbeer for breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day. Also, I’m on vacation so there’s a lot of leeway there. I entered the Fountains of Fair Fortune to see full tankards with butterbeer flowing from the tap. My first indulgence of the day arrived with a nice frothy head and was full of enormous bubbles. I was excited and scared.
At first gulp the extreme sweetness coupled with intense Florida morning heat was overwhelming. Suddenly my beloved butterbeer made me feel instant regret. Perhaps it was too much to handle so early in the day. I powered through the drink, but silently wondered if I should have done a Pumpkin Juice experiment instead.
Mid-morning Snack: Frozen Butterbeer at the Hopping Pot
Considering how poorly breakfast went, you might think another butterbeer so soon would be a bad idea. But as Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” and I’m pretty sure he was referring to my Butterbeer intake.
Frozen butterbeer is always refreshing, so I went with my gut and hoped for the best. Ice cold and slushy with just the right amount of sweetness, it went down easy. So easy that I felt like I could’ve had another one straight away. I decided a second one was a bad idea and moved on. Later this would prove to be a good decision.
Lunch: Butterbeer Potted Cream at Leaky Cauldron
Does two butterbeers before noon equal a drinking problem? Asking for a friend, who is me, and not feeling great. I decided to be an adult and cut the sugar with real food. At the Leaky Cauldron, fish and chips became the buffer for my dessert (side dish) of butterbeer potted cream.
This proved to be too much. The potted cream was thick and sickeningly sweet, and I say this as someone whose veins flow with liquid sugar. I asked for a cup of water, then another. The tiny, potted dessert suddenly became a mountain that I had to conquer.
I came up with the genius idea of dipping my chips into the potted cream, turning it into an impromptu sauce. I half expected a Howler to arrive and reprimand me for such a culinary abomination, but the combo worked and the butterbeer potted cream was consumed. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Afternoon Snack: Butterbeer Fudge from Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
I decided that a walk was a good thing, burn some calories, burn some nervous energy. The sugar high was climbing. I headed to Gringotts to exchange some Muggle money for Gringotts bank notes. I felt like paying for my butterbeer excursions would be more realistic with wizard currency.
Magical cash in hand I stopped by Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop to pick up some butterbeer fudge. As soon as I paid, I realized it was too soon for candy. I decided to stow my purchase away in my purse for later in the day.
It was at this point that I felt like I deserved a rest. I’d been clocking in about 19,000 steps a day walking theme parks that week and it all suddenly caught up with me. I sat down on the sidewalk of Diagon Alley and before I knew it, I promptly passed out.
The sugar spiral happened quickly and I fell asleep right there in the streets like a wizard hobo. I just hope there aren’t tourist pictures of me out there on the internet.
I awoke feeling refreshed only to see notes I had apparently written to myself in a butterbeer haze. The words simply said, “Feeling ill,” and “Regretting life.”
Afternoon Snack Part 2: Butterbeer Fudge revisited
After my sugar nap on the sidewalk, I boarded the Hogwarts Express to take a look around Hogsmeade. Traveling turned out to be the ideal time to indulge in the butterbeer fudge. It felt as if I had paid for treats from the trolley like Harry’s first trip aboard the train.
The images of Harry and Hermione on my shop bag seemed to be judging me as I took a bite of the unwieldy confection. In my opinion the fudge was a step too far with butterbeer. It tasted like a brick of butter more than anything else. The sugary slab was hard to swallow without the aid of my bottle of gilly water.
Dinner: Hot Butterbeer fail
I hopped off the train and headed into the Three Broomsticks to pick up a hot butterbeer, only to be informed that the drink was seasonal and exclusively sold during the winter. Thankfully that was one less butterbeer I’d have to consume. Instead, I kept working on the fudge and downed more gilly water. I was nearing the home stretch.
Dessert: Butterbeer Ice Cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
By now it was late in the day and having come to terms with my relationship with butterbeer I decided to tackle the ultimate treat, butterbeer ice cream. I’ll admit I’d been assuming this would be the best of the bunch and was saving it for last. Since the ice cream is only sold at Universal Studios Orlando, this was my one chance to try this magical concoction.
I wasn’t disappointed, the soft serve was creamy and delicious with just the right swirl of butterscotch-like flavor. In other words, this was the butterbeer treat of my dreams. Piled high in a waffle cone, I immediately felt like I had achieved butterbeer nirvana.
Final thoughts: Butterbeer Forever
This experiment taught me two things—what the human body is capable of when it comes to butterbeer consumption, and what it’s like to sleep on the streets next to Knockturn Alley. Both are a struggle and an accomplishment.
The most surprising fact is that after a full day of indulgence, my love of butterbeer hasn’t waned. If anything I have a greater appreciation for the drink that’s described as “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch.” I now know that cold butterbeer seems to be my sweet spot and that you should never have butterbeer for breakfast when it’s 85 degrees in Florida. Accio-even more-butterbeer!
Disclosure: Universal Studios Orlando Resort provided tickets for Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with no additional compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.