Burns Night makes January better for every one, Scottish or nae. With the nights still long and the post-Christmas slump still hanging heavy on empty social calendars, the evening when Scotland’s great poet, Robert Burns, is celebrated is the excuse we all need to knock back a few drams, pile your plate with haggis and forget those January blues. Despite being over 300 miles from Scotland, there are plenty of ways you can get in on the action here in London. Whether you want to learn more about the finest whiskies to make their way south of the border, sample haute cuisine haggis or just have to opportunity to shout the immortal lines, “They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” alongside a pub full of William Wallis fans, here are the best Burns Night events in London.
Brigadiers is celebrating Burns Night by serving Indian with a side of Scottish. The specially-designed, cross-continental menu is presented to guests alongside a roving bagpiper and complementary hot whisky toddies to start. The dishes on offer include haggis nargisi kofta to start, followed by a tandoori masala Aberdeen Angus steak and cranachan kheer with whisky jelly to finish. There’s also the chance to win a £75 voucher for Brigadier’s one-of-a-kind whisky vending machine, where your whisky education can really commence.
£65, 23-25 January, 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR, brigadierslondon.com
Roast in Borough Market is where you head when you’re looking for a proper meat fix. Unsurprisingly, it’s gone all out for Burns Night, offering a five course menu of canapés, grilled Orkney scallops, roasted Highland venison with haggis bon bons, a selection of Scottish cheeses and pickles, and a clootie dumpling and custard to finish. Each course comes with its own whisky pairing, of course, and a bagpiper and poetry readings will round off the evening in traditional Scottish style.
£145, 25 January, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL, roast-restaurant.com
Don your best tartan and get down to Temper in the City for a right Scottish shindig. With your ticket you get a Burns supper to share with your table courtesy of Neil Rankin, complete with whisky pairings for each of the five dishes on offer. Haggis tacos are paired with Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, while 45 day aged Highland rib eye, smoked beef cheeks and beef shin stovies are served with Cragganmore 12 Year Old. The party goes on till 2am.
£95, 6.30pm-2am, 2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton St, London EC2R 7HJ, temperrestaurant.com
Braveheart at The Ship
Catch up with Scotland’s favourite hero, William Wallace, at this open air screening of Braveheart at The Ship pub in Wandsworth. Yes it’s January – but shrinking from the cold really isn’t getting into the spirit of the night. So cosy up, sip your complimentary mulled gin, and watch Mel Gibson bravely don his kilt and do battle with the English.
£10, 41 Jews Row, Wandsworth SW18 1TB, designmynight.com
Roux at Parliament Square
For those that take their haggis seriously, there’s Roux at Parliament Square, which is offering up a five-course Scottish tasting menu with accompanying Balvenie whisky pairings. Food-wise, the best of Scotland is on show: the evening starts with a smoked haddock broth, followed by traditional haggis, neeps and tatties, and then venison loin. Two traditional Scottish desserts will round off the menu, namely a rhubarb cranachan, with oats, raspberries and cream, and then a rich fruit clootie pudding with clotted cream.
£130 per person, £250 for two or £490 for four, 11 Great George St, Westminster, SW1P 3AD, rouxatparliamentsquare.co.uk
Whisky tasting at Trafalgar St James
There’s nothing more Scottish than sampling some drams of whisky on Burns Night. The Trafalgar rooftop bar, which overlooks St James, the square and London’s epic skyline, is offering the chance to taste three premium Scotch whiskies: Auchentoshan 12 Year Old, Macallan 12 Year Old and Highland Park 18 Year Old. And if that’s not enough, they’re even throwing in a complimentary cigar to puff while you’re at it.
£45, 18:30-20:15, 2 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2TS, designmynight.com
Drinks by the Dram
Planning a quieter affair? Raise your glass to Robert Burns in the comfort of your own home with a tasting selection of five Scotch whiskies. Each sized by the dram, this set features tasters of Glenfarclas 15 Year Old, Kilchoman Machir Bay, Talisker 10 Year Old, Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old and Auchentoshan 12 Year Old. Reading To a Mouse out loud in front of roaring fire not essential, but very much advised.
Plum + Split Milk
If a traditional Burns Night is more your thing, then head down to Plum + Spilt Milk at Great Northern Hotel, where Chef Director Mark Sargeant is cooking up a quintessential Scottish feast, including Arbroath smokie (a type of smoked haddock) and leek & whisky soup. The haggis will be ceremonially piped into the room by a bagpiper, as is tradition. To round it all off, each course will be paired with a different Dalmore whisky.
£70, St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, London N1C 4TB, plumandspiltmilk.com