2nd December, Smoking Bishop
Nowadays, we may celebrate Christmas with a glass or four of mulled wine. But our Victorian and Georgian forebears had a vast panoply of punches, cups, caudles, noyeaux, neguses, shrubs, flips and possets at their disposal to mark the season. This included a range of ”clerical” punches, spiced and served piping-hot with the addition of roasted (and clove-studded) lemons and seville oranges. If the drink was burgundy based it was termed a “pope,” if claret-based it was deemed an “archbishop” and if port was the main constituent the punch was called a “bishop,” and so on.
At the very end of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” a reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge tells Bob Cratchett “… we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!” Now you know what that is.
This particular smoking bishop is Monsignor Cathal Septimus O’Herlihy, Bishop of Ballygramore, enjoying a glass of this edifying brew after a hard day. Note his mitre, crozier, cincture and zucchetto!
Illustration copyright © Paul Bommer