Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology, Vol. 32: Christmas Bishop

Posted on: December 17, 2010

The War on Christmas has become a bit of a free-fire zone of late.  This year’s latest fusillade comes from an unlikely source… the Catholic Bishop of Utah, who urged his flock to resist celebrating Christmas until the Eve itself, and, instead, to use the Advent season as a time for faithful reflection.  Humbug! 

While an admirable advance against Christmas Creep, the bishop’s injunction would prevent holiday parties, with their excuse to get nicely licker’d up on all sorts of seasonal tipples.  In fact, one of our favorites is a crowd-pleasing mulled wine punch called, appropriately enough, Smoking Bishop or English Bishop.  This bowl of warm, spicy, boozey goodness features prominently in no less of a holiday stalwart than A Christmas Carol.

Once old Ebenezer sees the light and opens his heart, the story ends with a proposal to Cratchit to “discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!  Make up the fires, and buy a second coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”  No Scrooge ourselves, a bowl of the aforementioned bishop will feature prominently in our celebrations this holiday season.  We’ll try to make do without a second coal-scuttle, however.

English Bishop

1 bottle of ruby port (sugg. Infantado Ruby Port)


30 or so cloves

Stick of cinnamon

¼ to ½ cup of sugar

Preheat over to 400°, stud the orange with the cloves, and, by cutting a small slit, insert the cinnamon stick into the orange.  Roast the orange in a small baking dish for 30 to 40 minutes until it has started to brown.  While still warm, quarter the orange and place in a saucepan with the bottle of port.  Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, strain, and add sugar to taste.  Serve warm, adding a bit of hot water every so often as necessary.

The origin of “bishop” as the name for this preparation comes from an English tradition of clerical drink references.   Pope is burgundy, Cardinal is champagne or rye, Archbishop is claret, and, here, Bishop is port.  You can mess around with the fruits, using different citrus if you like: lemons, grapefruit, etc.  Also, if you have other whole spices, e.g. star anise, they may be added, too.  Just don’t use ground or powdered spices, as they will make the result sludgy.  Finally, a couple of extra glugs of brandy, whiskey, or applejack are also nice.

A Smoking English Bishop... of a different sort

Too many holiday parties feature an obligatory carton of eggnog.  Eggnog can be delicious, but the store-bought kind — chock full of cloying thickening agents and sweeteners — is nothing less than a fifth column in the War on Christmas.  This year, instead, put out the most classic symbol of holiday hospitality: a flowing bowl of Smoking Bishop.

And, as it’s the season of giving, a little extra credit.  If you save a bit of Bishop, you can use it in an appropriately seasonal and festive Jersey Devil cocktail, the best formulation of which comes courtesy of Employees Only.

Jersey Devil

1¾ oz. English Bishop (cooled)

1½ oz. applejack

½ apple liqueur (Berentzen Apfelkorn)

3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with orange slice.

Drink up, and, of course, Happy Holidays!


1 Response to "Frontier Mixology, Vol. 32: Christmas Bishop"

[…] on Saturday with banter that included jokes about her pink socks, her cinnamon toothpaste, and her New Jersey […]

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