Don your tartan, address your haggis like the star that it is, and get ready to ceilidh like never before. Burns night is BACK, ya wee bairns, and we've got the low-down on where to sink a dram or two in London, and how to nail your Gaelic celebrations at home.
Easy to think that we've just made these words up, but actually, these are the dishes that any legit Burns Night celebration will feature.
To start your meal, kick things off with soup. Thick and fishy is how the Scots like to do it best, so Cullen Skink is the one. It's made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, and originates from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the northeast coast of Scotland. Not into your fish soups? Try a bowl of Cock-a-Leekie. As you might have guessed, it is made with leeks and chicken stock (yeah, we know where your mind went first, ya filth bag) and it's bad-ass, as far as soups go.
Haggis, Neeps & Tatties AKA the main event is one of those divisive dishes. What can we say, some people just can't get their heads around a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, all mixed with stock, all encased in the animal's stomach. Yeah ok, it sounds a bit weird but take it from us - it tastes banging. Serve it up with a mash of neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) and some whisky-spiked gravy and you're golden.
If you've still got room for pudding (you do) then it's gotta be Cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert of cream and fresh seasonal raspberries given a boost by Scottish oats and whisky. It has been called 'the uncontested king of Scottish dessert' so you'd be a fool to skip this one. Want something a bit more unusual? The Scots have got you. Get yourself a Clootie Dumpling, a pud traditionally made of dried fruit, spices, oatmeal or breadcrumbs, flour, and beef suet. Yes. Beef suet. It's all boiled in a cloth called a “cloot”, and it looks like a dumpling. Yeah we said it was unusual, but have the Scots steered you wrong yet?
Scotch. There really is nothing better for a proper Scottish celebration. Single malt, blended, on the rocks or in a cocktail. The barley-based Water of Life is one of the biggest global exports from Scotland, and a dram of the gold stuff is the perfect accompaniment to any Burns Night celebration.
There are over 130 whisky distilleries in Scotland, and the choice is practically endless, but if you're looking for something that will pair well with your Haggis, you need to look for something that can harmonise with the pepperiness of the meat but won't overpower the sweetness of those neeps and tatties. Our pick? A delicious dram of Glenmorangie Lasanta, matured in bourbon and sherry casks for 12 years which gives it a mouth-watering blend of rich spiciness and sun-drenched sweetness.
Prefer your spirits to be a little more botanical? Most British gins actually come from north of the border, so if you wanna keep your celebrations Gaelic, a Scottish gin is also a wicked option. The Botanist Gin is made by the guys at the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, while the team behind Porters Gin, a cold-distilled gin made with 100% British wheat spirit, are based in Aberdeen. Then there's Caorunn (pronounced “ka-roon”, the Gaelic word for Rowan Berry which is a Celtic botanical found at the heart of this gin) which can be used to make a Burns Night Martini using 20ml Caorunn Gin, 5ml Old Pulteney 12y, 25ml Italicus, 30ml Vermouth Dry and a slice of Cox apple to garnish.
Swerving the booze? A can of Irn Bru is the next best thing.
Have a Scottish accent, or know how to put one on? This is your time to shine, wee bairn.
The Address To A Haggis is the pivotal part of any Burns Night celebration. The poem, written by Robert Burns himself, is to be read out as your Haggis is presented to the table ideally on a silver platter, and while someone plays the bagpipes, but hey, if you're only rocking some IKEA basics crockery and a Scottish Spotify playlist, that's ok, too.
Get Burns Night delivered straight to your door by the crew at Canvas Bars. These guys are all about recreating a legit bar experience in your crib, with carefully considered pre-batched cocktails, snacks, a playlist and even a scent to bring the whole experience to life. For Burns Night, they've teamed up with Aberfeldy to create a specially curated Scottish celebration in a box. Don your tartan, pop the playlist on the Sonos and get ready to Cèilidh around your living room with three Aberfeldy cocktails: 'Tae an Apple' inspired by Auld Lang Syne; The Róisín Spritz inspired by the Burns' poem A Red, Red Rose; and 'The Scots Mile', a cocktail inspired by the stories & the characters in the Burns poem Tam o Shanter. Peckish? Get involved with the Mackie's Haggis & Black Pepper crisps for an extra taste of Burns.
The Modern Burns Night is available for deliveries on 20th and 27th January. RRP £55.
Have you been practising your Address To A Haggis? Now's the big moment. Rather than being delivered on a silver platter, this one will be arriving in a supper box from the crew at Farmison. Alongside an artisan-made haggis fit for toasting and a Port Charlotte Whisky Cream Sauce developed by their award-winning chef Jeff Baker using pure base ingredients, you'll also get a 20cl bottle of The Classic Laddie. All ya need now is the neeps and tatties and an innate hate of the English and you're ready for a true Scottish celebration.
The Burns Night Celebration Box is suitable for 2, priced at £35
If you would rather skip the food and head straight to the main event (the drinking), this Burns Night Whisky Tasting Kit from Dewars Aberfeldy Distillery will take you on a journey across the Highlands and into Speyside with their trio of drams, including 50ml drams of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, Dewar’s 12 Year Old and Craighellachie 13 Year Old. Along with a Glencairn tasting glass, they'll also provide you with a QR code that'll give you access to a pre-recorded virtual tasting session with their Advocacy Host, Craig. They'll even provide you with recipes for the traditional Burns Night fare, in case you change your mind about the food thing.
The Burns Night Whisky Tasting Kit is priced at £21.50
Wanna head oot for your Burns Night celebrations? Swing yourself over to the Black Rock Tavern for their Winter-long Islay Pub Takeover with Bruichladdich. The ground-floor tavern is where it's at for this Gaelic knees-up, as they're bringing an exclusive one-night-only Whisky Sour Barrel-Aged Beer to the menu. This beer was launched by Bruichladdich in partnership with fellow B Corp Brewgooder, and sour brewery Vault City. If you like your drinks exclusive and epic, this is your vibe as Black Rock are the first and only bar in London to have this available.
Wanna stick to barley of the distilled variety? Grab a Bruichladdich flight of big hitters that'll take you from the Bruichladdich Classic Laddie to Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2012 and Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2011, before travelling to the smokier Bruichladdich whiskies of Octomore 10.3 and Port Charlotte 10, all for £30.
Boisdale is Scotland's official unofficial embassy in London. Fact. So if you’re unable to get north of the border this Burns Night, this whisky haven is where it's at. You can toast Robbie Burns at both Boisdale Canary Wharf and Boisdale Belgravia with a few of their recommended drams including ABERFELDY 16 and 21 Year Old, and the ABERFELDY Old Fashioned. In true Boisdale fashion, each evening will be host to a Burns Night Piper and a musical performer - from Abba Mania to Nicola Emmanuelle, or the Definitive Rat Pack, so expect swing classics, floor-filling classic pop & a few Scottish surprises along the way. And of course, your haggis will be piped to the table in the traditional manner before the piper recites the Ode to a Haggis.
The full Boisdale Burns Night menu is from 24th to 29th January, from £79 per person and £69 per person respectively. To view the performance listings and book, hit up this link.
Get ready to ceilidh under the stars this Burns weekend with a rooftop hootenanny at SKYLIGHT at Tobacco Dock. They've teamed up with the Monkey Shoulder crew to throw one epic party, complete with guest DJs and sick party favours peppered throughout the evening. Monkey Shoulder is bringing their own unique twist on a Scottish celebration, with a free Monkey Shoulder cocktail on arrival and whisky tasting sessions, with a night-long DJ-lead soundtrack.
The Burns Night Bash will be hosted at Skylight Tobacco Dock on Saturday 29th January