In less than two weeks, glasses will be raised, toasts made, Haggis eaten and ceilidh dances danced, all in honour of the birthday of poet Robert Burns.
Although he died nearly 217 years ago, the famous Scottish poet lives large in many people’s hearts and minds, and the annual celebration seems to grow every year, especially amongst the whisky community which will – no doubt – be celebrating with just as much gusto this year.
But, if you’ve not yet got plans yet, where should you look to go?
If you’re still at a loose end, here are a few options I’ve come across where you can recite the Scottish Bard’s poetry as loudly as you wish with few puzzled stares and drink delicious drams to warm you up this chilly January…
Boisdale: The three Boisdale restaurants in the chain (Canary Wharf, Belgravia and Bishopsgate) will each host evenings to honour Burns. Starting on the 21st January at the Belgravia branch (and continuing through the week there) along with events on the 24/25th January at the Canary Wharf and Bishopsgate locations, guests will be treated to pipers, Macsween’s haggis and Aberdeenshire Steaks and plenty of drams. For more information and to book, call the following: Boisdale of Canary Wharf, 020 7715 5818; Boisdale of Belgravia, 020 7730 6922; or Boisdale of Bishopsgate, 020 7283 1763.
The Lady Ottoline: In collaboration with Dramatic Whisky, the Lady Ottoline pub near Holborn will host a Burns Night dinner and tasting on the 24 January for £50 a head. The menu includes in-house smoked Loch Duart salmon, partridge and haggis, all paired with drams and given the Dramatic treatment. For more information and to book, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call them on 020 7831 0008 or visit, www.theladyottoline.com
The Athenaeum Hotel: The Piccadilly hotel whisky bar’s latest Whisky Social will be held in partnership with The Balvenie‘s Dr Andrew Forrester. The evening will include a Monkey Shoulder whisky cocktail on arrival, along with a four-course set menu paired with drams like The Balvenie Portwood and Caribbean Cask at a cost of £49. For more info and to book, call them on 0207 6403311 or email email@example.com.
The Capital: If you fancy splurging on Burns Night, head over to The Capital Hotel, where Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw has created an £89 four-course tasting menu paired with whiskies chosen by the youngest ever Keeper of the Quaich and the hotel’s bar manager, Cesar da Silva. The tasting menu can also be ordered without the whiskies for £60 (but where would be the fun in that?). Further details can be found at www.capitalhotel.co.uk/restaurantbar.html
Deeny’s: Regular London market stall hosts Deeny’s will serve up their own take on haggis (the haggis toastie) and other goodies at two more informal events in London. The first on the 25th takes place at The Grafton pub in Kentish Town and the second happens at St Mark’s Church Hall near Dalston Kingsland, in collaboration with the Nest Collective. For more details on the events, check out Deeny’s blog here: http://deeneys.com/blog/?p=44
Scotch Malt Whisky Society: Over in Farringdon, the SMWS will host a Burns Night tasting with ambassador John McCheyne for members and non-members. The ticket price (£47 members/£52 non) includes five drams and a traditional Scottish supper. For more info, head to: http://www.smws.co.uk/whisky-tastings
Outside of London:
Chewton Glen: If you fancy making a country break of the event, head to the stunning Chewton Glen hotel in Hampshire on the 25th, which will be hosting a tasting, dinner and ceilidh in partnership with Glenfiddich. The hotel is offering packages, including the evening’s dinner, along with hotel stay, morning breakfast and access to spa facilities for £235 per person. For further details, head to: http://www.chewtonglen.com/whats-on/burns-night-celebration.aspx
Whiski Bar: At the Whiski Bar in Edinburgh, guests can take in a traditional Scottish dinner and a Talisker dram for £30 a head on the 25th. Fiddle band Muckle Flugga will entertain and – with the bar’s huge selection of whiskies – you’ll be sure to have a jolly old time. For more information, visit: http://www.whiskibar.co.uk/Burns_Night_2013.html
Edinburgh University’s Water of Life Society: Edinburgh University’s Water of Life Society will host a tasting for under £10 (a steal if you ask me!) on Sunday, 20 January. The price will include three drams, entry and entertainment by the Cosmic Ceilidh Band. More information can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/393946917364924/
St Columba’s Hospice: For a night that will make a difference to your life and others, head to Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange on the 25th where a Scottish band and traditional dinner will cost you £45 and help raise funds for the St Columba’s Hospice. For full details, head here: http://tinyurl.com/aho2fhu
NSPCC: For those of you in Birmingham who want to attend a charity evening, the NSPCC will be raising funds for ChildLine at its Robert Burns celebration on the 25th. Taking place at the Holte Suite at Aston Villa, the black-tie event costs £79 a head and includes a drinks reception and dinner. For more details on the charity, the event and how to book, head to: http://tinyurl.com/b633don
The Birmingham Whisky Club: The team at the Birmingham Whisky Club will host two events for Burns on the 24th and 25th at The Old Crown pub. For more information on each and to book, head to the team’s events page here: http://tinyurl.com/a6y97yh