The Courvoisier Dickens Punch Tour

Mimi ON Nov 24, 2011 AT 9:30 am

The Charles Dickens Coffee House

Pretty soon we’ll be enjoying ‘A Christmas Carol’ on repeat on the telly, which always gets us in the Christmas spirit, but what’s Christmas without the…well…spirits? For the second year in a row Courvoisier, will be launching its  Courvoisier Dickens Punch Tour , combining our love of A Christmas Carol with our love of…good booze. Lucky for us, the lovely people at Courvoisier gave us an early preview of the tour.

In case you’re wondering what the connection is between Courvoisier cognac and Charles Dickens, here’s a little history tidbit. When the great writer passed away over 140 years ago, 18 dozen bottles of brandy were found in his home, making it quite clear that Dickens was an avid fan of the drink. However, it was a specific brandy that he was keen on. All the bottles were labeled “Pale Brandy F. Courvoisier.” The cognac has been associated with the literary great ever since.

Courvoisier Cognac

Upon arriving on the tour, we were enthusiastically greeted by Philip, our guide, who was proud to point out that his father always called him, “Pip.” Seriously, could this guy have been any more perfect for the job? He led us around London to places directly associated with Dickens. The first Dickens location was also our meeting place – Bow Street Magistrates Court. The court has ties to Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and we also learned that Dickens had a huge fear of debt – an unnecessary fear due to his astounding wealth – and this was the location of the debtors court.

Next up was the Charles Dickens Coffee House on Wellington Street in Covent Garden. This quaint little building once housed the author’s popular magazine, “All the Year Round.” The offices were located above what’s now the coffee house, and for several years before he died, Dickens made the rooms above the offices his home.

St Clements Danes Church

We then followed Philip swiftly to the next Dickens destination – the church containing the bells said to have woken Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. Standing in front of St Clements Danes Church at night, looking up at the bell tower peering eerily through the trees, it was easy to get transported back and imagine Scrooge being woken from his nightmares. It was while we were gazing up at the bells and listening to Pip dish out Dickens facts that our group was joined by an unexpected visitor. Dressed head to toe in 19th century garb and holding a lantern, the mysterious man kept interrupting Pip while making jokes. After a few minutes the man asked us to follow him to a little place he wanted to show us. We looked at Pip as if to ask, “What do we do?” and it was soon made clear that we should follow this man wherever he wanted to take us.

Bob Cratchit making The Smoking Bishop

Before long the mystery man introduced himself as Bob Cratchit, the poor clerk who worked for Scrooge, and after weaving through several streets and small alleyways, we ended up at our next and final Dickens destination – The Old Curiosity Shop, a place that bears the same name as another Dickens novel. Cratchit took us inside the teeny, candlelit, and ultra cozy and warm shop, which smelled delicious – a scent we can only describe to you as “Christmasy.” A man was lying on a table in the middle of the room and once Bob woke him up we were thrilled to learn it was Scrooge himself! Bob and Scrooge talked for a bit, and then it was time for the grand finale and the part we were all looking forward to most. It was time to make The Smoking Bishop.


The Smoking Bishop Punch, a favourite amongst Scrooge, Cratchit, and Dickens himself, is a warm and delicious mix of Courvoisier, red wine, port, sugar syrup, orange juice, grapefruit juice (and grapefruit slices), cloves, and nutmeg. Bob and Scrooge had us all get involved in the making of the drink and after it got nice and warm in the large heated bowl, we all got goblets of the drink to try. Let us just say that The Smoking Bishop Punch definitely warmed us right up. A sample of Courvoisier was even given to us at the end so that we can make our own Smoking Bishop for Christmas.

From the lively, energetic, and very knowledgeable Pip, to the historic Dickens destinations and that special warm ending to the tour, we only have good things to say about The Courvoisier Dickens Punch Tour. We now feel we know Dickens on a personal level and we’ve got to hand it to him…the man had great taste in brandy.

The tour will run for two weeks beginning 23rd November and ending 3rd December. Times are Wednesday through Saturday, 6pm and 7.30pm, and tickets for the hour-long tour, starting at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, Bow St, WC2, cost £12. Book the tour at if you’re ready to get into the Christmas spirit.


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