The Subtle Science and Exact Art of Potion-Making

My Potions workstation on Saturday night, as class began.

“I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death,” said Professor Snape at the first session of Harry Potter’s potion-making class, and then added, “If you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”

I hope I was not a dunderhead last night, as I attended a Zoom-based Potions class, run by Defense Against the Dark Arts, a local Harry Potter fan group. The adults-only class was a Hogwarts-themed bartending class, billed as “a date with your potions mistress to brew drinkable elixirs.” Of course, this was all done from our own home-based potions classrooms, via Zoom.

Viktor Krum’s Quidditch World Cup Golden Snitch

Beforehand, we were given ingredients lists for four different potions:

  • Viktor Krum’s Quidditch World Cup Golden Snitch
  • Barty Crouch Jr.’s Polyjuice Potion
  • Neville’s Gillywater
  • Goblet of Fire

That night, we followed along as our Potions Professor gave us step-by-step instructions for making each drink.

The first one was my favorite, probably because Goldschlager liquor was a major ingredient, and I love the stuff. How can you not love a cinnamon-flavored drink with flecks of sparkly gold in it?

My husband Bob was nearby, so I let him taste my various concoctions. His favorite was the very refreshing Gillywater, with plenty of fresh mint leaves and some cucumber added to vodka, along with a few other ingredients.

I disliked the Polyjuice Potion, probably because it contained orange juice, and I’m not a fan of the stuff. Maybe I’ll try again and substitute something different.

The Goblet of Fire tasted pretty good, but it was supposed to light on fire, spectacularly. Mine never did, and a lot of other class members had the same problem. The recipe called for Bacardi 151 rum, which has a super high alcohol content but is no longer available. If I’d had more time and had known while I was shopping that the alcohol content was crucial, I’d have researched enough to identify a fitting substitute. But I just used regular Bacardi, and my drink never burst into flame as it should have. This calls for more experimentation….

In any case, it was an unusual evening, and the most fun I’ve ever had in a Zoom meeting.

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