July 30, 2009

Firewhisky Recipe! Butterbeer Recipe!

The movie Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince has gotten teenage drinking in the news. And it's true, after they point it out, there is a bunch of booze in the sixth movie. In the earlier books, there was always a bit of ambiguity about butterbeer, it was not really clear if it was even alcoholic. By the later books, it's more implied that it does definitely loosen the students up. And another drink appears in the later books called firewhisky, & I recall there being a funny scene when they go to The Hog's Head, the sketchier pub in Hogsmeade. Ron is excited that they might serve him firewhisky, but Hermione shoots him down. At some point, in the last book, doesn't Harry actually drink a shot? They're toasting the memory of a fallen member of the Order of the Phoenix, & I think she describes the burning feeling you get when you first sip whiskey.

Okay, prepare yourself, because these quotes from the New York Times might make you more nauseous than a butterbeer firewhiskey carbomb:

Hermione is tipsy. Neville is serving drinks. Ron is sipping mead and Harry is partying with his professors.

Does Hogwarts have a drinking problem?
This article pretends to present the issue unbiasedly, but the concerned parents they quote are definitely weighed heavier. And by taking the drinking out of their context in the school & the other potions & spells, it might make it more alarming to paranoid parents that Hogwarts is a bad influence.

Liz Perle, a mother of two teenage boys and the editor in chief of Common Sense Media, which reviews books, movies and Web content aimed at children, said she was bothered by so many scenes showing alcohol as a coping mechanism.

“Hermione is such a tightly wound young lady, but she’s liberated by some butterbeer,” she said. “The message is that it gives you liquid courage to put your arms around the guy you really like but are afraid to.”

Seriously, Liz Perle!? Come on! This article actually transitions from the quotes of concerned parents to newsy pseudo-science like: "Even accounting for variables like friends’ drinking habits, the researchers found that children with high exposure to alcohol in movies were nearly three times as likely to binge-drink as those with the lowest exposure."

In Harry Potter, after Harry has been attacked by a dementor, Professor Lupin gives him chocolate to restore him, not exactly advanced magic. All thru-out the books, Rowling understands that there are simpler magics & emotional forces more powerful than some of her sillier spells. What exactly is a potion but a brewed beverage with transformative properties? Alternately, when Ron is recovering from a strong potion, Professor Slughorn gives him a shot of mead which turns out to be laced with a powerful poison - not exactly the positive metaphor for drinking that parents fear. And there's of course two much more potent beverages in the Half-Blood Prince book - love potion & felix felicis (liquid luck). None of this fictional magic is far-fetched from what any teenager or adult has experienced from well-timed libations.

My friend Jenny Ruth came up with a simple recipe for butterbeer, but it involves a beer you can only get in Western America - New Belgium's 1554 Black Ale from Fort Collins, Colorado. Just add a dash of butterscotch schnapps to the top of a mug & it's extremely delicious & tastes exactly like I imagined in the books. The Black Ale is an old Belgian recipe - neither porter nor stout, but a very dark mild ale - and I'm sure the butterscotch will taste fine on top of any mild, dark ale; or any dark beer that's not hoppy.

I'd like to note that the other recipes for butterbeer on the internet sound DISGUSTING. One involves melting butter into cream soda & butterscotch-flavored syrup. And other variants on that. I guarantee these will have no magical properties except in the WC. Please drink butterbeer with real beer, and for the sake of American Society, have a mug with your 16-year-old friends & neighbors, especially when they are dealing with real 21st Century problems or celebrating something worth celebrating. They might need some liquid luck.

When we made firewhisky a few years ago, I used one of the most powerful hot sauces on the market, Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce. It's not a hot sauce you can just splash on your food, it has to be heavily diluted for any recipe. I boiled a small pot of water & basically added every spice in the spice cabinet, some fresh herbs, & some of this terrifying Dave's sauce. Then I slowly heated some bourbon in a separate pan (the Half-Blood Prince warns not to boil alcohol lest it become impotent). Then mix them when they're hot, gird up your loins, & take a shot. In retrospect, it makes more sense to use scotch or Irish whiskey, & I'm sure this recipe can be finer tuned or made with any variety of potent spices or chili sauces. But I do recommend the hitting-it-with-everything strategy & serving it very hot. Other recipes on the internet have ways to ignite the shot, but this seems cheesy & unnecessary, & Rowling does not mention the firewhisky actually being on fire. Don't be so literal! The fire's supposed to be in your belly & soul.


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Brains said...

POTUS: Bud Light
VPOTUS: Bucklers
Gates: Sam Adams Light
Crowley: Blue Moon

Essąn Dragone said...

What on earth is Bucklers? "Low alcohol beer"? Emma Watson wouldn't go anywhere near that.

Brains said...

Yes, low alcohol "beer." Is he afraid drinking will make him garrulous?

grainne proinseas said...

no, he is afraid it will make him more handsome and charming and the nation can't take it. that is what booze does to us irish assholes.

Anonymous said...

making non-alcoholic firewhisky. don't shoot me down, i hate the taste of alcohol.

Sheogorath said...

I would just like to point out that Butterbeer is as alcoholic as bottled shandy, which is why house-elves get hammered on it, but it doesn't affect humans. Any that do act drunk on it are either in the movie, the makers of which didn't consult with J.K., or they've added firewhisky to theirs.