Christmas Bowl of Bishop
For Charles Dickens, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without a steaming bowl of punch.
“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” says the reformed Scrooge to Bob Cratchit, as he claps him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!”
To make a bowl of Bishop, start by studding a couple of lemons or oranges with a half dozen cloves each and roast the fruit in an oven until they are browned. Cut the fruit in half and put in a saucepan with mulling spices and about a half pint of water. Boil about half the water away before adding a decent bottle of ruby port into the pan; heat it slowly until it steams, but don’t let it boil.
- 2 lemons
- ½ pint of water
- 12 cloves
- 1 Bottle ruby port
- ¼ cup sugar, more or less, to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 Tbsp whole allspice berries
- 1 small thumb of ginger
- 1 tsp star anise
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp mace
- (don’t use powdered spices, which will make the drink sludgy)
- Roasting pan
- Sauce pot
- Stud to whole lemons with with a half dozen cloves each.
- Roast the lemons for half and hour, more or less, in a [oven 350f] degree oven.
- Cut the roasted lemons n half and put them in a saucepan with half a pint of water and whole mulling spices, such as cinnamon, allspice, ginger, mace, and star anise. (Don’t use powdered spices, which will make the drink sludgy.)
- Boil off a little of the water before adding the port, and sugar to taste.
- Be sure not to boil the wine, but let it steep just below a simmer for an hour.
- If the punch is too strong, add a little more wate.
- Serve steaming in punch cups or London dock glasses.
What you should know
In Dickens’s London, Bishop would have been made with clove-studded oranges; it was up at Oxford where the taste ran to roasted lemons with port. I much prefer the Oxonian version, as roasting brings out the bitterness in oranges but takes the sour edge off of lemons.