smoking bishop

smoking bishop
There are three constants in all my life – food, literature and history. So if I can cook or drink a thing that combines my other loves, I count myself as very happy indeed. Although after drinking a Smoking Bishop or two, I may be happy but not entirely sober!

A Smoking Bishop is an irreverent winter warmer dating from at least the 18th century; allegedly named for the rich red of a bishop's robes. Having quaffed a few of these, I am wondering whether this is an aspersion on the bishop’s bibulous habits. Essentially a mulled port with citrus and spices - the perfect fillip on a cold winter's day.

As for its literary appeal, a mention in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (towards the happy ending), gives it a festive flavour too.

So I raise a glass to you all and wish you well for the holiday season!


Skill level: Easy

ingredients:5 oranges (Seville, if in season)
2 lemons
1 lime
150g Demerara sugar
750ml port (ruby is best)
750ml red wine
10 x cloves
2 cm chunk of peeled ginger, chopped
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground mace
3 x cinnamon sticks
grated nutmeg, to serve (optional)
miscellaneous citrus fruit, quartered, to serve


  1. Start prepping this the day before you plan on quaffing this drink. 
  2. Wrap citrus fruit in foil and bake in a baking dish at 120C for 1½ hours. Fruit should be lightly browned.
  3. Stud fruit with cloves. Place in a large bowl. Add ground spices, fresh ginger, sugar, any cooking juices and red wine. Stir until sugar begins to dissolve. Cover. Set aside for 24 hours.
  4. Cut baked citrus into quarters. Squeeze out juice into spiced wine. 
  5. Sieve spiced wine into large saucepan, getting as much liquid out as possible. 
  6. Add cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add port. Gently heat for 10-15 minutes. (Gently does it – you don’t want to lose the booze!)
  8. At last minute or so, turn the heat right up – which takes your winter warmer from plain Bishop to a Smoking Bishop.
  9. Pour into heat-proof glasses. 
  10. Serve with a bit of grated nutmeg and citrus wedges.

  • A Smoking Archbishop is made with Claret.
  • A Smoking Beadle is made with ginger wine and dried fruit.
  • A Smoking Cardinal is made with Champagne or Rhenish wine
  • A Smoking Pope is made with Burgundy.

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