Christmas Bowl of Bishop

For Charles Dickens, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without a steaming bowl of punch.

“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” says the reformed Scrooge to Bob Cratchit, as he claps 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 Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!”

To make a bowl of Bishop, start by studding a couple of lemons or oranges with a half dozen cloves each and roast the fruit in an oven until they are browned. Cut the fruit in half and put in a saucepan with mulling spices and about a half pint of water. Boil about half the water away before adding a decent bottle of ruby port into the pan; heat it slowly until it steams, but don’t let it boil.


  • 2 lemons
  • ½ pint of water
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 Bottle ruby port
  • ¼ cup sugar, more or less, to taste

Mulling Spices

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp whole allspice berries
  • 1 small thumb of ginger
  • 1 tsp star anise
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp mace
  • (don’t use powdered spices, which will make the drink sludgy)


  • Roasting pan
  • Sauce pot


  1. Stud to whole lemons with with a half dozen cloves each.
  2. Roast the lemons for half and hour, more or less, in a [oven 350f] degree oven.
  3. Cut the roasted lemons n half and put them in a saucepan with half a pint of water and whole mulling spices, such as cinnamon, allspice, ginger, mace, and star anise. (Don’t use powdered spices, which will make the drink sludgy.)
  4. Boil off a little of the water before adding the port, and sugar to taste.
  5. Be sure not to boil the wine, but let it steep just below a simmer for an hour.
  6. If the punch is too strong, add a little more wate.
  7. Serve steaming in punch cups or London dock glasses.

What you should know

In Dickens’s London, Bishop would have been made with clove-studded oranges; it was up at Oxford where the taste ran to roasted lemons with port. I much prefer the Oxonian version, as roasting brings out the bitterness in oranges but takes the sour edge off of lemons.

For a more progressive version of this cocktail try Bishop on the Rocks

This recipe and text are reprinted from the book How’s Your Cocktail? with the permission of the author.

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