Can you really offer Advent Lessons & Carols without serving Smoking Bishop at the wassail reception that follows? I presume it happens but not the past few years here at St. John’s. Smoking Bishop has become part of our L&C tradition, though if you’ve never heard of it a) you’re not alone and b) I encourage you to whip up a batch this year.
What exactly is Smoking Bishop? Well, it has nothing to do with your bishop sneaking a cigarette in the parish cemetery before the opening procession. Nor is it to be confused with a flaming bishop — that’s something else entirely. Smoking Bishop is basically a warm version of sangria. It’s a drink so named for its purple color (brought about by red wine and port) and the fact that it’s served warm.
The best-known literary reference comes from the last page of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” After Scrooge has his conversion experience, we read this conversation with his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit:
“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped 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 bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!”
My Advent gift to you is the recipe. I hope you’ll try it out and let me know what you think. Better yet, make some and drop it off at the rectory!
1 unpeeled grapefruit
1/4 pound of sugar
2 bottles of red wine
1 bottle of port