Why Isn’t Butterbeer the New White Russian?

Courtesy of Robicelli's
Courtesy of Robicelli’s

In a Times op-ed, the mother of a 10-year-old Harry Potter fan gets up in arms because the movie’s young wizards drink butterbeer. What is the stuff, exactly? Well, it sounds like the type of thing Sasha Petraske might’ve served at his bar, Gryffindor, if that hadn’t been an April fool’s joke. According to the website for Heston Blumenthal’s show Heston’s Feasts (via the Food Section), butterbeer is a “bona fide Tudor recipe made from ale, sugar, egg yolks, nutmeg, and butter” (a nonalcoholic recipe on a Harry Potter fan site calls merely for club soda, butterscotch syrup, and butter). As far as we know, no bar serves it, though the Village Pourhouse experimented with it during a Harry Potter night. For whatever reason, the stuff hasn’t achieved the sort of rampant popularity that White Russians did post-Lebowski, which might be a good thing (it sounds like cute overload in a glass) or a bad one (on a winter’s night, a warm cup might be a nice alternative to buttered rum). But then there’s this: A Chow review (posted yesterday) informs us that Robicelli’s of Bay Ridge sells a “butterbeer” cupcake made with vanilla cake, butterscotch, buttercream, and gold dust. Of course.