What to Drink while Reading Harry Potter

File this under ‘Shared Text’ and ‘Chicagwarts.’ The post below is taken directly from an email I received this morning from the University of Chicago Alumni Association (for my relations with and debts owed my alma mater, see Harry Potter and the Ivory Tower’ (2008), an article in the alumni magazine, and my interview with Marcella Delaurentis of ‘The Chicago Maroon,’ the College’s newspaper, also in 2008). Of all the book-drinks featured in Literary Libations, they chose Harry Potter’s, for what I think are obvious ‘Shared Text’ reasons. I cannot recommend the butterbeer recipe below because brown sugar is a poison but, if this is your poison of choice, have at it!

With Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a Bloody Mary.
With Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, a brandy hot toddy.

Those are just two of nearly 200 drink pairings that Amira Makansi, AB’10, suggests in Literary Libations: What to Drink with What You Read (Skyhorse Publishing, 2019).

The book also includes nonalcoholic pairings for young adult and children’s books. For the Harry Potter series, the choice is butterbeer, of course. Here’s how to make it.

1 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. water
6 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
¾ c. heavy whipping cream, divided
½ tsp. rum extract
4 (12 oz.) bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the water and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Stir often until the mixture reads 240˚F on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat and promptly stir in butter, salt, cider vinegar, and ¼ cup whipping cream. When fully incorporated, set aside to cool. When mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.

Combine 2 tbsp. of the brown sugar mixture and the remainder of the heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream until just thickened, but not completely whipped. This should take 2-3 minutes.

To serve, divide the sugar mixture between four tall, chilled glasses. Add ¼ cup of cream soda and stir to combine. Top with the remainder of the cream soda and spoon the cream over the top. Makes four servings.

Read more about Makansi and Literary Libations in the Core.


  1. Louise Freeman says

    I hosted a butterbeer tasting for the Virginia is for Wizards group a number of years ago and had samples of several recipes I had found online, including one very similar to this (at least, it required whipping up a butterscotch syrup, measuring with a candy thermometer, the works. After all that, the recipe voted best was Winky’s Quick-Fix. Take one 2-liter bottle of cream soda, stir in 2 tablespoons butter extract and 2 teaspoons run extract. Swirl gently.
    Although, I may make a secret stash of Aberforth’s Adults-Only for the QCMM.

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