Clove-studded oranges - ready to roast...
Last year, The New York Times posted these holiday drinks. My girlfriend, another friend, and myself all agreed to try and make a few different drinks from this list. We only made the Milk Punch and Auld Lang but decided that we should try to make more holiday drinks the following year - which is this year. Since I had been mulling cider in the fall, I wanted to try a mulled wine. However, in my search I came across the Bishop - which is basically a mulled port. It also known as the Smoking Bishop since when it's ready there is a light fog that appears over the heated port (similar to most other lightly-heated mulled drinks). The name "Bishop" is apparently due to similarity between the purple color of the drink and a bishop's purple vestments.
Port is a fortified wine - they add brandy to the wine which, consequently, makes it stronger. The story I've seen most often about Port wine is that the English had to find a new supplier to whet their wine appetite since they were pretty much always at war with France so they looked to Portugal. Portuguese wine would "turn" during the voyage so they began adding brandy to the wine barrels in order to preserve it. However, this "preservation" would kill the remaining living yeast cells so any excess sugars would not be turned into alcohol - that's why it is so sweet. This started a trend and now you have an industry. Port has a lot of different variations: Vintage, Aged Tawny, Late Bottle Vintage, Tawny, and Ruby (to name a few). All will be sweet but the real difference between each type is how long it is held/aged in the barrel.
This recipe called for a Ruby Port but Ruby ports, in my opinion, tend to be just sweet and not all that interesting otherwise. Therefore, I chose to make this Bishop with a Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) port. These are Vintage ports that are in the barrel too long so they will filter them (although, not always) and bottle. Because Vintage ports tend to be made from the highest quality grapes, these make a great "poor man's" Vintage port (since a vintage port can cost $80-$200 while these normally retail for $20+).
The first step was to stud the navel oranges with cloves and roast them in the oven (for about an hour) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The recipe was not specific about peeling the orange but I left it on because I figured the bitterness of the orange peel would add a bit more complexity to the flavor - this ended up being true (although I didn't have a non-peeled version for comparison). After the oranges roasted, we cut the oranges into quarters (with cloves still embedded in them) and threw the quarters in a sauce pan with the entire bottle of port. We used two oranges because we figured it would be better - it's a good thing we did too because a couple other friends came over as well so we had to use an additional bottle of port (Fonseca Bin 27 this time).
It wasn't a very complex drink to make but it's great for a very cold winter evening - like last night. I highly recommend this and make sure you make enough port available because you'll be surprised how quickly you will drink two bottles of port - especially with the right company.