Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Warm Drink...

...sort of. Perhaps in response to the recent country-wide (by all reports) absence of summery weather, I recently found myself craving the warm flavor of a delightful (and very old) drink which I often compound in the wintertime; a concoction called a Bishop...

The first written reference to the Bishop - which is really just a variation on the concept of a flavored or spiced (i.e. mulled) wine - of which I am aware is from 1827 in the first edition of Richard 'Cicero' Cook's Oxford Night Caps. However, in its' description of the beverage, this text claims the drink was known to appear in the records of the oldest established Colleges (which would eventually become Oxford); referenced as early as 1447!

Now, the recipe as put to paper in 1827 is a truly fantastic drink for the depths of winter - involving the roasting of a Clove-studded Lemon, the mulling of Cinnamon, Mace, Nutmeg and Allspice in water and a fiery reduction of heated Port or Claret wine. Said reciept also includes an addendum, stating that, "Oranges, though not used in Bishop at Oxford, are [...] sometimes introduced into that beverage." Let it be known gentle reader, that though I am decidedly not an Oxford man, I still use their recipe (with Oranges mind you) for preparing this wintertime cup (and frankly, so should you).

But we are not, despite the unseasonably-chill & moist weather, in the grips of winter, so what use is bringing up a hot cocktail now? The answer (or part of it) lies, as it often does, in the works of Jerry Thomas, who lists two Bishops in his venerable books. The first is a simplified "English Bishop", prepared and served hot as the 'wags at Oxford would have scoffed at (using Oranges), whereas the second is compounded differently, using that glorious invention - ice. As you will note at left, in his recipe for the cold "Protestant" Bishop, Thomas also calls for a small quantity of flavorful Santa Cruz or Jamaican rum to impart some of the spice character which would otherwise be absent from the drink.

Now, while the "Protestant" Bishop makes for a great drink as written, it lacks much of the toasty, caramelized spice flavors which lend the English variety its considerable appeal; so what's a cocktailian to do? Blend the most favorable qualities & techniques of all the recipes, with a few borrowed modern twists, like so:

Bishop Brûlée
3 oz. Ruby Port
Bitters Mist (see below)
1½ wheels: fresh Orange
1 wheel: fresh Lemon
1 Tsp. superfine white Sugar
3x whole Cloves
1 slice: candied Ginger
Combine the fruit & dry ingredients in a mixing glass. Using a Misto sprayer (or another pump-atomizer), spray a little of the Bitters mist [a 1:1 mixture of Angostura bitters & Lemon Hart 151° Demerara Rum] over the ingredients. Carefully brûlée the ingredients by spraying short bursts of the mist into the glass, rotating it slowly to ensure an even distribution of the flame. Once the sugar has caramelized, add the Port with ice & shake well. Fine-strain into a chilled Sour glass & garnish with a grate of fresh Nutmeg.

The resulting libation gifts the Port with a pleasant, not-too sweet melange of the roasted citrus, toasty spice & carmelized sugar flavors of the original varieties; all in-conjunction with the chilled, easily (sort of) compounded nature of the "Protestant" version. It also has the advantage of an impressive spot of presentation. In fine-tuning the recipe over the past (all-too wet & chilly) weekend at 'Clover, many of our guests were well-pleased at the warming characteristics of this otherwise cold libation (as well as the show), and I hope you will be too...just be careful with the fire please...

Cheers & Enjoy!


Tiare said...

Oh my..i`m gonna save this one for when the fall sets looks taaaaasty!

Nice post!

tonyharion said...

Hey Chris,
That’s the same one you made us at the mixo house isn´t it? Great Cocktail!!

christine said...

Chris- this drink looks fantastic! Love the pic. I am working on a book that features flaming cocktails, grogs,cordials, etc. This recipe would be a great addition.
If you would be interested in publishing this, please shoot me a note.