Traditional drinks mentioned in well known literature?

Does anyone know of any drinking traditions of a popular drink that is mentioned in popular historical literature.

I am not limiting to English language, but if one does please provide a translation.

What got me thinking of this was reading about a Smoking Bishop that is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Originating in Britain and immortalized by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), a Smoking Bishop is a ‘smoking’ hot drink of wine and port mulled together with the juice of roasted bitter oranges, cloves, star anise, sugar and (occasionally) cinnamon. Compared to traditional mulled wine, which can sometimes be overwhelming, the spices take a minor role in a Smoking Bishop. With port, oranges and sugar, one would expect an overly sweet drink. But the after-punch of bitter fruit is the real star here, pulling our taste buds along a pleasant tightrope of flavor. Finding the balance is key to a good Smoking Bishop… and people have been trying since the 1800’s.

On December 17, 1843, the Smoking Bishop became etched in history with the publication of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Dickens places the drink in the final scene of the book, when Ebenezer Scrooge offers his overworked employee, Bob Cratchit (the dad of Tiny Tim), a bowl of Smoking Bishop, along with his promise to be, well… less of a Scrooge. Considering the book sold 5,000 copies by Christmas Eve (6 days later) and has never been out of print, I’d say readers felt this merry conclusion was a success.

“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 endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i Bob Cratchit!

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more…” – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

What is a Smoking Bishop?

Max Miller in his series Tasting History with Max Miller has aa interesting YouTube video on this subject: Smoking Bishop from A Christmas Carol.

In this video, Max gives an impressive account of a Smoking Bishop as a mulled wine as well as a fine recipe and pointers on making it.

However, back to the question at hand. Does anyone known of any classical or traditional drinks in historical literature that is not well known in our days?

A recipe would be greatly appreciated. Historically, I am limiting this to 1900 AD or earlier.

By the way, Merry Christmas to all!

2 Answers 2


Vanity Fair (1848) (available here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/599/599-h/599-h.htm) features a bottle of Rum Shrub among other drinks. There were many different 'shrub' recipes, so it isn't clear exactly what they were drinking, but one could assume that his readers knew exactly what he meant.


Rob Roy (1817) by Walter Scott (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/7025/7025-h/7025-h.htm) features brandy punch. The only ingredient explicitly mentioned is limes.

Despite the current popularity of cocktails both classic and modern, punch doesn't seem to have come back into fashion

Edited to add: Drinking With Dickens (Cedric Dickens, 1980) has a few recipes I've not seen elsewhere.

Moonbeams For Summer Drinking

Pour into a jug 10 wine glasses Madeira, 2/3 wine glass brandy, 4 wine glasses water. Add peel of a small lemon cut very thin. Sweeten to taste. Plunge into the whole a brown toast. Grate a little nutmeg over the surface. Tie a cloth over the jug and stand in a cool place until needed.

Sherry Negus

3 oz lump sugar 2 lemons 1 bottle sherry 1 pint boiling water grated nutmeg Rub the lumps of sugar into the lemons until yellow. Put the sugar into a large warmed bowl, adding the strained juice of the lemons. Pour in the sherry and add the boiling water when ready to serve. Grate nutmeg on top.

  • 1
    It has somewhat -- there's a rhyme that helps you make it: one of sour and two of sweet three of strong and four of weak. But the kinds that use tea and champagne seem mostly out.
    – gbronner
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 14:52

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