The Smoking Bishop

The Smoking Bishop

Smoking Bishop was a very popular drink in Victorian England. It is similar to “mulled wine”, being made as well from red wine, spices, and fruits. Compared to traditional mulled wine though port wine is also an ingredient of to the Smoking Bishop. 

In 1843, Charles Dickens published his famous story “A Christmas Carol“, being a Ghost Story of Christmas. The mid 19th century was a period when the British started re-inventing their Christmas traditions, including the new fashion of sending Christmas cards, setting up of Christmas trees, and singing Christmas Carols. Charles Dickens describes this Christmas Cheer fashions when his protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge promises to help Bob Cratchitt and his struggling family, insisting that they “discuss [his] affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop”.

The Smoking Bishop is a wonderful flavor combination of port wine, oranges (or lemons) and sugar, thus it is not overly sweet. A truly Victorian Christmas Drink.

Eliza Acton, writer of Britain’s first cookbook (published in Modern Cookery, 1845), describes the recipe as follows: Make several incisions in the rind of a lemon, stick cloves in these, and roast the lemon by a slow fire. Put small but equal quantities of cinnamon, cloves, mace, and allspice, with a race of ginger, into a saucepan with half a pint of water: let it boil until it is reduced one-half. Boil one bottle of port wine, burn a portion of the spirit out of it by applying a lighted paper to the saucepan; put the roasted lemon and spice into the wine ; stir it up well, and let it stand near the fire ten minutes. Rub a few knobs of sugar on the rind of a lemon, put the sugar into a bowl or jug, with the juice of half a lemon (not roasted), pour the wine into it, grate in some nutmeg, sweeten it to the taste, and serve it up with the lemon and spice floating in it.” Please note that today many recipes use Seville oranges instead of lemons. 


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