It is now possible to take a festive Dickensian walking tour through the heart of London, treading in the footsteps of one of the greatest storytellers from history. And if you can combine it with Cognac, then so much the better.
But what has this famous author got to do with brandy – we hear you cry? Well, it’s a little known fact, that following the demise of this wonderful teller of tales, along with leaving us his masterful words it was discovered that he had a secret stash of 18 dozen bottles of French pale brandy. Each labelled ‘Pale Brandy F. Courvoisier’!
Indeed, on reading back through many of his novels there are references aplenty to the drinking of various punches. For example, take the end of ‘A Christmas Carol’, when Scrooge is talking to Bob Cratchit.
“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 your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)
Smoking Bishop was a well known punch from the Victorian era, so named ‘Bishop’ because of its purple colour.
And in 1847, in a letter penned by the great man himself, was the recipe for one of his favourite punches – including ‘A large wine glass of good old brandy, of if it be not a large claret glass, say two.’
There are many other references to punch throughout the works of Charles Dickens, and if the 216 bottles of Courvoisier found to be in his possession after his death are anything to go by, then the man was a great fan of the drink to say the very least.
The Courvoisier Dickens tour sets off from the Covent Garden Cocktail Club in central London, where you will be spurred on your way with a tipple of one of Charles’s very own cold punches. Then, after an hour or so of meandering the very same streets as he walked himself, you’ll be welcomed back into the Cocktail Club with open arms, and a warming glass of Scrooge’s ‘Smoking Bishop’.
And you can’t get much more festive than that!
Sources: courvoisierdickens.eventbrite.com, www.victorianweb.org, historicalfoods.com