Smoking Bishop

Make in February, ready for Christmas

I have apologised already for mentioning Christmas [in February] but I really must make this for storing away for my Christmas hampers as Seville oranges are only available at this time of year. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a signed limited edition of Charles Dickens great-grandson’s book “Drinking with Dickens”. This gives recipes for many of the odd sounding concoctions mentioned in the books of Charles Dickens. For those of you who have read or watched “A Christmas Carol” you may recall when Scrooge has turned over a new leaf he is heard to say:

"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 endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss our affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop!"

Cedric Dickens says in his book:

“Bishop seems to have been a very popular drink, and no wonder. I discovered it many years ago and it quickly became a traditional winter party drink. Not only is it’s taste exquisite, but equally its medicinal qualities are great. You can feel it doing good. Temperatures go up, from the top of your head (bald heads turn red) right down to the toes.”

A slight adaptation of the recipe allows you not only to have Smoking Bishop ready for Christmas, or for medicinal purposes when suffering from those nasty winter bugs, but also Bishop’s Cup for drinking over the summer.



  1. Wash the oranges and bake them in a moderate oven (180°C/350°F,Gas mark 4) until they are pale brown (approx 30 mins).
  2. Put them into a warmed earthenware mixing bowl with five cloves pricked into each.
  3. Add the sugar and pour in the wine - not the Port.
  4. Cover and leave in a warm place for a day.
  5. Squeeze the oranges into the wine and pour it through a sieve.

If drinking immediately

  1. Add the Port and heat - but do not boil.
  2. Serve in warmed goblets and drink hot or pour into bottles and stand in a pan of simmering water, this keeps it hot and makes pouring easier.

If storing

  1. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal, omitting the port. When ready to use add port and heat as above or for Bishop’s Cup omit the port but fortify with a tot of orange brandy.


Seville Oranges (February Season)

SEVILLE ORANGES (in season in February, often used for making marmalade)