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2nd December, Smoking Bishop

December 2, 2011
by Paul Bommer

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

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