Smoking Bishop: The Recipe

Illustration by Paul Bommer

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!

Smoking Bishop

5 unpeeled oranges
1 unpeeled grapefruit
36 cloves
1/4 pound of sugar
2 bottles of red wine
1 bottle of port
Wash the fruit and oven bake until brownish. Turn once. Put fruit into a warmed earthenware bowl with six cloves stuck into each. Add sugar and pour in wine — NOT the port. Cover and leave in a warm place for a day. Squeeze the fruit into the wine and strain. Add the port and heat. Do not boil! Serve “smoking” warm. Yield: 15 to 20 servings (serve in small wine glasses).

2 Comments on “Smoking Bishop: The Recipe”

  1. janice says:

    Ah-ha! I’ve made this by guess for years and never guessed the grapepfruit. Thanks!

  2. Marty Garwood says:

    Would it be litugically correct to use this as communion wine on those bitterly cold Sunday mornings? Perhaps it would encourage the congregation to brave the cold and make it to church.

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