Harry Potter Butter Beer

In today’s Record-Eagle column I ran the following recipe for Vanilla Simple Syrup.


Vanilla Simple Syrup


Once you make this you’ll find all sorts of reasons to keep it handy. We put about 1 1/2 ounces in the bottom of a tall glass and top it off with cold plain seltzer for a homemade cream soda that beats the pants off of anything you can buy in the store. If you’re so inclined, you can pour a wee bit in a glass with some brandy. And for you Harry Potter fans out there … Tune in to www.foodiewithfamily.com for an amazing and delicious Butter Beer recipe in both grown up and house elf styles.


If you don’t have access to a vanilla bean, just add an additional tablespoon of vanilla extract at the end of the recipe.


  • 1 c. fresh water
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise but not scraped
  • 2 T. pure vanilla extract

Add the sugar to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan with the vanilla bean and pour the water over the top. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.


Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour syrup, along with the vanilla bean, into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Cool completely before use.





…After submitting the column to the editor, I promptly forgot to post my butter beer recipe here.  Sigh.  You might almost think I was really busy or something.


‘Tis the season to be reading and I’m willing to bet there are a bunch of kids (or adults) who are preparing to read or re-read the Harry Potter books.  I was surprised, when first reading the books, to discover the huge role of food in the stories.  I was hungry and salivating the entire time I read them.  Pumpkin pasties, meat pies, sausages, potatoes, rock cakes, cider, licorice, butter beer.  Wait.  Um, butter beer?  Sounds good, but what is it?


I decided to do a bit of research.  It turns out that when J.K. Rowling wrote about butter beer she had in mind a butterscotch type flavor.  There was no recipe.  When I find something in a book that sounds delicious and there is no recipe I normally have a brief moment of anger at the author for making me hungry and not providing the immediate blueprint for satisfying that food craving.  Drat you Rex Stout!  Drat you and Fritz and Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin all to hecky durn.  Where in the world am I going to get a dozen starlings and a culinary genius of a Swiss national to stew them in saffron for me?  I then become rational once again and either recognize that I’ll probably  never get to eat that dish (as in the stewed starlings) or I and produce my own version.  With a jumping off point like butterscotch and the description that accompanied it in the book I figured I could probably produce a decent version of butter beer myself.


In the books, butter beer was served both hot and cold.  For simplicity’s sake, I started with the cold version, but you can just as easily serve this warm by gently heating in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave.



Does anyone else see that house elf hiding behind my butter beer? 

That was such a lame picture that I might have to make more butter beer later to try another shot.  Er, I mean another photo.

Butter Beer

The alcohol content in this is very low.  However, for the wee bairns, substitute butterscotch syrup for the butterscotch schnapps. 




  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Butterscotch Schnapps (for children, use 2 Tablespoons butterscotch syrup instead.)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider, chilled
  • Plain Seltzer Water, chilled




Pour vanilla syrup into the bottom of a tall glass.  Add schnapps and cider.  Stir to combine.  Top off the glass with plain seltzer water and have your lips ready to sip at the foamy head that threatens to pour over the edge.  Enjoy!


  1. the little sister says

    Oh, I just read your latest article in the Record-Eagle! Those boys are so wonderful, and their wonderful greeting this morning was lovely. I miss you guys-and hope we can drink some butter beer together in the not-too-distant future!

  2. Rebecca and/or Val says

    Bellini Valli- Absolutely. It’s incredibly versatile.

    Tina- Did you try it out yet? We’re complete homemade soda converts.

    Melissa- Hey. If my nerditude can’t amuse people then it’s useless.

    The little sister- You complete me. :-)

    Jo- Thank you, lady. I hope you get to try this. I’s yummy!

  3. Lynn Walker says

    I am way late to the party here, but there is a “Nero Wolfe Cookbook”. Get it, if you can find a copy!

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