Charles Dickens’s drinking knowledge was as epic as his tales, many of which include passing descriptions of the Victorian era’s drinking rituals. The Smoking Bishop happens to fall into a family of punch-style drinks named for the clerical hierarchy. The Pope involved mixing with burgundy while Archbishop employed claret and the Cardinal, champagne. In a final scene from A Christmas Carol, Scrooge turns to Bob Cratchit, his belittled employee, with new eyes and invites him to be merry over a bowl of Smoking Bishop—the word “bishop” was 19th-century code for port—which referred to a roasted clove and orange-infused port punch, warmed and mulled with baking spices and further fortified with red wine.
- 750 ml ruby port
- 750 ml red wine
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- 4 oranges
- 20 cloves, whole
Garnish: clove-studded orange slice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash and dry oranges. Pierce and stud each orange with five cloves.
- Place oranges in a baking dish and roast until lightly browned all over, 60-90 minutes.
- Add port, wine, water, sugar and spices to a saucepan, and simmer over low heat.
- Slice oranges in half and squeeze juice into the wine and port mixture.
- Serve in a punch bowl, and ladle into individual glasses.