This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at a question that needs, nay MUST be answered. What is the best form of Butterbeer? Now there was a time when there were only two forms of Butterbeer: regular and frozen, and you had to go to Islands of Adventure to get them. That’s right, back in my day we didn’t have all these fancy schmancy new flavors, we just had two and we liked it. We loved it! Kids today have a whole bunch of great new choices and for this very special edition of the SATURDAY SIX we are going to rank the six types of Butterbeer items in order.
Using a top secret double blind scientific study (AKA a Twitter poll), votes were tabulated and have given us a definitive list of the absolute best form of Butterbeer. Today we are going to countdown the flavors to find out which is hands down the greatest, so sit back, keep an insulin needle nearby, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Butterbeer Fudge
Making its debut just days before this year’s A Celebration of Harry Potter event, Butterbeer Fudge is the latest creation from the Wizarding World. Found at Honeydukes in Hogsmeade or the new Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop in Diagon Alley, eating a full piece may fill you with so much sugar that you just might be able to vibrate through walls like The Flash. It does have the classic Butterbeer flavor of caramel and butterscotch, but a little goes a long way so consider sharing a piece with another Muggle (or three). The top is so concentrated that it even has a small taste of candy corn.All that said, it is definitely our favorite piece of any fudge offered at the Universal parks. ($3.95)
# 5 – Butterbeer Potted Cream
Butterbeer Potted Cream is also a very new addition to the Butterbeer family, making its debut in the parks in December of last year. Available at the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks, it is a Butterbeer version of the Chocolate Potted Cream which arrived with Diagon Alley. Served in a really cool and unique container (which would score straight 10’s across the board from any Pinterest focus group), this potted cream basically boils down to an unbelievably great tasting butterscotch pudding. This is one of the snacks that may fly under the radar, so be sure to go out of your way to try one on your next trip to the Wizarding World.
It is also worth noting that both Butterbeer Fudge and Butterbeer Potted Cream were the only items on the list that did not receive a single first place vote. In fact both only got one second place vote each. ($5.29)
# 4 – Frozen Butterbeer
This may be a controversial one, and Frozen Butterbeer actually was at the #2 position on the list until some early votes were discovered that we had overlooked (hey, we live in Florida, it’s what we do.) The people who enjoy frozen Butterbeer swear by it. One might immediately think this would be like frozen Coke, basically a slush version of Butterbeer, but it’s better than that. Much better. The texture is smooth and this can be an incredibly satisfying drink on one of those unbearably hot summer Orlando days (which are all the days that end in “Y”). While I, Your Humble Author, abstained from voting, I put myself in the camp that prefers frozen Butterbeer over regular. ($6.49)
# 3 – Butterbeer Ice Cream
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley is basically the greatest ice cream shop in theme park history. Everyone has their favorite flavor. Apple Crumble. Chocolate Chili. Orange Marmalade. Salted Caramel Blondie. Strawberry and Peanut Butter (which, if I’m ever on Death Row and have to pick a last meal, will join a sloppy joe from the Pop Century food court, Popeye’s biscuits, and ‘Ohana bread pudding as the last foods I ever want to eat). But the big draw at Florean’s is Butterbeer Ice Cream. The first “new” Butterbeer item following the regular and frozen drinks, Butterbeer ice cream was an immediate hit. It has a cool look as the soft serve machine swirls in a colorful ribbons of different flavors, but in our opinion it actually tastes the least like Butterbeer compared to any other item on the list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good…very good, but it’s in an ice cream shop that offers some incredible flavors worth waiting a long time in line for. ($4.99 cup)
Bad ice cream is a contradiction in terms, so it’s tough to really sing the praises of this ice cream too loudly, but it was awesome, and I highly recommend it. – Tom Bricker on Butterbeer ice cream
# 2 – Butterbeer
Ah, Butterbeer. The drink which can all but take credit for making the Universal Orlando Resort what it is today. We all know the Wizarding World was a smash hit when it made its debut at Islands of Adventure in 2010, but as the story goes, sales of Butterbeer were so tremendous that Universal made back its entire Potter investment within six months. It was not uncommon to see 20, 30 minute lines or more of people just waiting to get Butterbeer. This was a drink that people had read about in JK Rowling’s books as well as seen in the Harry Potter movies and have always wanted to taste. Universal made Butterbeer real, and in twist worthy of M Night Shyamalan, it was one of the best drinks you ever had in a theme park. Maybe that’s the immersive theming talking, or maybe it’s the vanilla creamy “head” of the drink which makes every sip wonderful, but Butterbeer is the true Chosen One. ($5.49)
To give J.K. a variety of beverages to choose from, they allegedly whipped up four variations on their Butterbeer formula along with the version that UOR officials were hoping the author would pick. Then Jayson’s boss — Richard Florell, Universal’s senior vice president in charge of Food & Beverages — carried that tray of drinks into Ms. Rowling.
And then J.K. carefully sampled all five glasses. And upon arriving at the real glass of Butterbeer, Rowling reportedly took one sip and then reportedly broke into a big smile, saying “Yes, Chef. That’s it.” – Jim Hill, Butterbeer: How the Harry Potter Beverage Was Made Real
# 1 – Hot Butterbeer
As voted by the all-star blue ribbon panel, Hot Butterbeer is hands down the best version of Butterbeer available in the Wizarding World (and the voting wasn’t even close). Hot Butterbeer made its debut during the 2014 A Celebration of Harry Potter, and to steal a phrase from Disney, was limited time magic. Muggles who had tasted it talked about how incredible it was, but finding it was harder than tracking down one of Voldermort’s horcruxes. It was only available in the mornings, and then completely disappeared into a Gringott’s bank vault when the Celebration event ended.
Thankfully Hot Butterbeer returned to the world for the holidays of 2014, and this time it was back for good. Warm and creamy, similar to hot chocolate, hot Butterbeer is like drinking a Werther’s Original candy and topped with a foam made of dreams and wishes.
If we had our druthers, Hot Butterbeer would be named Warm Butterbeer, but that’s literally the only fault in the drink. It’s perfect. ($5.49)
So there you have it: The Definitive Guide to BUTTERBEER. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, Disney Photo Icon Tom Bricker, the Iron Stomach Amusement Buzz, photo wunderkind Mike Sperduto, NKOTB Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.