The Truth About Universal Studio's Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Butterbeer

In May 2021, fans of the "Harry Potter" franchise received some seriously magical news. Food & Wine reported that officially sanctioned Butterbeer, once only sold at Universal Studios, would also become available in New York City at its newly launched "Harry Potter" store — and not just that. The report also revealed that the drink would come with a limited edition label created by "Harry Potter" design team MinaLima and inspired by the Magical Congress of the United States of America from the "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" film.

For many, the treats described in "Harry Potter" have formed foundational memories of decadence. In the fantasy series, which was written by J. K. Rowling, Butterbeer was described as "a bit like less sticky butterscotch" and often enjoyed by the protagonists in times of celebration (via Collider). But how does the ubiquitous drink fare when filling actual glasses and real life stomachs? More importantly, how can those without the resources to pop off to New York City or Orlando enjoy the treat?

Well, hold onto your broomsticks because that and more will be explained as we explore every facet that has gone into making fact from fiction.

J. K. Rowling approved of the Butterbeer

When Universal Studios wanted to capitalize on the enthusiasm inspired by "Harry Potter" with a new theme park, they quickly realized that to complete the picture, they would need food and drinks to match the surroundings. (After all, how disappointing would it be to eat a plain old slice of pizza dressed in wizarding robes?) So, the company of course turned to their Corporate Executive Chef, Steve Jayson. "My vision was for guests to be able to walk into a restaurant and feel like you were walking into a movie, or a book," he told Bon Appétit

While Jayson refused to give away the secret recipe for Butterbeer, the chef was happy to describe the process behind its invention. The team wanted something whimsical, like name suggests, without any alcohol, while still resembling beer. They chose butterscotch as a starting point, as it would be sweet and emulate the appearance of beer. 

When they thought they had managed to get the Butterbeer and the rest of the menu down into exact recipes, they flew to Scotland for J. K. Rowling to give her final approval. As you might have concluded, the author was impressed. "She even got that foamy white mustache when she tried the Butterbeer," Jayson recalled. "It was really the icing on the cake for her to love what we did."

Butterbeer is as decadent as soda

"I will tell you this," Jayson said when Bon Appétit implied that a drink with the word butter in its name may not be healthy, "a 12-ounce portion of Butterbeer has fewer calories than a 12-ounce can of soda. We were very sensitive to calorie count, and making sure that nothing here was too over-the-top."

The nutritional information shared by Wizarding World Park states that 14 ounces of Butterbeer will fill you with 200 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, and 29 grams of sugar. "With 42 grams of carbs, that is my carb intake for two days!" the writer exclaimed.

However, this is not much worse than the amounts in a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola. That smaller can of Coke supplies a drinker with 140 calories, no fat, 39 grams of carbohydrates, and 39 grams of sugar. So, in essence, Jayson is correct to suggest that the drink he made is similar to a soda.

Making your own Butterbeer

Considering the fact that Butterbeer was originally a fictional drink from a world with an obsessed fandom, it seems only right that it should be available to everyone, not just tourists with deep pockets.

Fortunately for those on a budget, plenty of recipes can be found online. The Spruce Eats offers a formula similar to hot buttered rum. Combine heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, butterscotch sauce, and softened butter in a bowl. Whisk it, then chill it in the freezer. Next, add the chilled cream to a glass of vanilla cream soda and enjoy. If you want an alcoholic variety, spike it with rum or butterscotch schnapps. The Food Network offers a similar idea but reaches for condensed milk instead of heavy cream and lacks spices.

Another possible option for all you muggles out there who are maybe not as competent behind the bar as Madam Rosmerta? There is the magically named (though not officially licensed) Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. Produced by Reed's, this non-alcoholic drink can purchased online and at national grocery chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (via Flying Cauldron).