|Dickens punch tour|
The fog malingering over London in the last few weeks has given the city a Dickensian feel. The pea soupers shrouding St Pauls and masking our skyscrapers make the skyline look positively Victorian.
What better time then, for a Dickens walking tour? Especially one that involves punch. Strong punch. The Courvoisier Dickens Punch Tour is an hour-long ramble around Dickens' Covent Garden and Holborn haunts, starting at Bow Street Magistrates Court and winding up at The Old Curiosity Shop. Along the way, you'll learn a raft of Dickens facts (keep them up your sleeve for pub quizzes) and be 'surprised' by characters from his books making appearances.
One of these characters, a well known fellow from A Christmas Carol, will lead you to The Old Curiosity Shop where, after watching an enthusiastic, if rather hammy, two-man play you'll get the chance to help make a version of one of Dickens' favourite punches, the Smoking Bishop. The punch is referenced in A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge says to Bob Cratchit: 'We will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob.' The version we tried was laced with Courvoisier, as Dickens kept a secret stash of the French cognac, but in Victorian times Smoking Bishop was also commonly made with port, along with red wine and all those lovely festive things: oranges, lemons, cinnamon, allspice and mace.
Charles could clearly handle the strong stuff; after one teacup of the delicious Smoking Bishop I felt the tale-tell glow of the already-tipsy. I'm going to make the Bishop for a Christmas party, so look out for the recipe on Pinch of Salt soon.
The Courvoisier Dickens Punch Tour runs from now until December 3rd, Weds-Sat at 6pm or 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12. For more info, click here.