Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eighteenth Century Christmas--The Punch

One of the highlights of our eighteenth-century Christmas celebration was the punch. A very intrepid friend of mine who is incredible in the kitchen decided to make a traditional punch--and chose the punch referenced in Dickens' A Christmas Carol in Prose. Called "Smoking Bishop," it if course utilizes the five main ingredients of a proper punch: Some sort of alcohol, sugar, citrus, water, and spice. Except this one skips the water as the wine is already light enough in booze compared to, say, rum.

The punch is displayed on the table above--you can see, it is smoking. Just a little. (Next to the punch bowl are a pair of crowns--we had a traditional Twelfth Night Cake with a bean and pea baked in--the lucky finders get to wear the crowns, have good luck, and hopefully don't have a chipped tooth.)

I found a similar recipe online (because I have to make this myself sometime), and thought I would share. This recipe comes from Charles Dickens' great grandson, who says Victorians enjoyed many "clerical" drinks.

"Pope is burgundy, Cardinal is champagne or rye, Archbishop is claret, Bishop is port"

Full story here

The Recipe--Smoking Bishop

Bake four oranges and five grapefruit in a moderate oven until pale brown.

Prick each fruit with five whole cloves, put them in a bowl with a quarter pound of sugar and a bottle of red wine, cover, and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours.

Take the fruit out of the mixture, cut in half and squeeze the juice, then pour the juice back into the wine.

Pour the mixture into a pot through a sieve, add a bottle of port, heat (without boiling), and serve in a punch bowl (or glasses or mugs).

"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!"


Connie said...

Fascinating! I think I'm going to have to make Bishop's Punch--maybe for Christmas or New Years. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Carrie C said...

Fun!! Where does the smoke come from? Or is it just steam from the heat?

Rowenna said...

Connie--it was really tasty, especially if you like wine.

Carrie--it's just steam :) But Smoking Bishop sounds much more dignified than Steaming Bishop, I think :)