April 6, 2024, 4:29 PM ·

Beyond the rides in Universal’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands, the most popular attraction might be Butterbeer.Inspired by the beverage featured in the Harry Potter books and films, Universal’s Butterbeer started as cold and frozen drinks in Orlando’s Hogsmeade Village, but now comes in six varieties – sometimes more. You can drink or eat your Butterbeer now at Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood in the United States. But which one is your favorite?

We tried all six during a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood this week. Here is what we tasted:Butterbeer drinksLet’s start with the original – the classic, cold Butterbeer [$9 in Hollywood and $8.99 in Orlando]. The mildly carbonated non-alcoholic beverage has a taste reminiscent of cream soda, topped with foam that offers more pronounced butterscotch flavor. Drink it through the foam, and you’ve got the distinctive “Butterbeer” flavor that blends shortbread and butterscotch.Introduced at the same time as the cold version, Frozen Butterbeer [$9 in Hollywood, $8.99 in Orlando] has pretty much the same flavor, but with a slushy version of the soda base. That makes it a bit more tolerable for people who do not like fizzy drinks, but also a bit more difficult to drink when served, as the consistency is too thick. (Universal provides a straw to help.) However, the main appeal of Frozen Butterbeer is that’s usually hot enough in Orlando that the slush quickly melts, providing an easy-to-drink beverage that is nevertheless colder and more refreshing than the regular option. When the weather turns cooler, that’s the time for Hot Butterbeer [$9 in Hollywood, $8.99 in Orlando]. A different concoction, this one looks and tastes more like a non-coffee, Butterbeer-flavored latte than the other Butterbeer drinks, which are designed to look like, well, beer. I find that the hot version offers a more pronounced nutty flavor than the other Butterbeer drinks, too.Universal offers vegan (non-dairy) versions of Cold and Frozen Butterbeer, but not the Hot Butterbeer. And even while Universal will not condone it, more than a few fans have been known to drop a shot of espresso from the nearby Starbucks into the Hot Butterbeer… or a shot of something else from the Hog’s Head pub into the cold.
The six types of Butterbeer: from left, Cold, Potted Cream (sample size), Hot, Frozen, Ice Cream, and FudgeButterbeer dessertsIf you want your Butterbeer to go – whether to take home to ship to jealous Harry Potter fan friends, your best bet is Butterbeer Fudge, which is available at the counter at Honeydukes sweet shop. The key word here is “sweet,” however, as I found this – by far – the sweetest version of Butterbeer. Too sweet for my taste – all I get is the sugar and not enough of the savory butter and nutty elements that I enjoy so much in the Butterbeer drinks. You mileage may vary, of course.The other relatively shelf-stable version of Butterbeer is Butterbeer Potted Cream [$5.99 in Hollywood, $6.49 in Orlando], which you can find on the dessert menu at The Three Broomsticks on both coasts and The Leaky Cauldron in Orlando. This one tastes much like Butterscotch pudding.

By far, the most popular Butterbeer dessert is Butterbeer Ice Cream. You can find it for $6.99 in Hollywood and $6.49 in Orlando as a hard-pack cup at the Harry Potter restaurants. It also is available in soft-serve form at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream [$7.29 in a cup and $8.29 in a waffle cone in Hollywood, $6.49 in a waffle cone in Orlando].
Soft-serve Butterbeer ice cream coneLicking that soft-serve in the cone offers a more rewarding mouth feel than taking bites from a spoon, but the hard-pack version might be a bit heavier on the Butterbeer flavor, as it is not swirled with as much vanilla as the soft-serve version is. Ultimately, it’s up to you. Pick one, or try them all.
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