You don’t have to go the whole haggis, but at least raise a glass to the immortal memory of Robert Burns or ‘The Scottish Bard’ tonight…
Raise a glass of ‘the Scotch drink’ to the memory of poet Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) Tonight is Burns Night: and your chance to pay tribute to the Scottish Bard and his poetry.
The tradition started with a simple supper, between friends in 1801. Things escalated somewhat, and the dinner endures over 200 years later. ‘Dinner’ is a now an itinerary bound occasion: everyone must rise for the haggis (a Scottish dish of steaming entrails, traditionally encased in stomach), there is a poetic address to this haggis, toast to the haggis, eating of haggis, much singing and reciting of Burns’ extensive work and of course, a healthy dash of whisky (bagpipes are often included).
Scotsmen will tell you that there is absolutely no way you can participate half heartedly. However, there are a number of options that mean you don’t, necessarily, have to go the whole haggis.
First, whisky and where to find it: Albannach in Trafalgar Square is the perfect place to become acquainted with new varieties. They offer ‘whisky flights’, set menus of 4-5 different types of whiskey. You can experience Scotland’s regional variations for £20. The views over Trafalgar Square are quite lovely.
If you’re a well-seasoned whisky drinker, then perhaps Athenaeum is for you. With nearly 300 whiskeys lining the walls and many quiet corners, this offers a hushed and hallowed whisky session.
The Brittania is a hidden gem, just 5 minutes walk from London Bridge. It boasts an extraordinarily extensive selection of whiskeys and all the higgledy piggledy that you would hope for from a backstreet pub.
Burns has friends all over the world: Min Jiang offers a ‘Chinese Burns’ menu including Sesame Prawn and Haggis Toast. To be enjoyed in their clean lined contemporary space on the 10th Floor which affords you sensational views of London’s skyline.
BRGR.CO’s offer tribute with their ‘Ode to Haggis BRGR’, which includes a beef burger from the Duke of Buccleuch Estate, Scotland, a haggis fritter (of course), smoked cheddar cheese and ‘neeps’ (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). All to be washed down with a ‘Highland Fling’ (a twist on a whiskey sour.)