Every year, on or near the 25th January, kilt-clad Scots gather to celebrate the life of poet Robert Burns. Once only really acknowledged in the Northern realms, Burns Night has gained popularity down here in recent years and now there are a whole range of patriotic banquets and whisky tastings taking place all over London. If you’re unfamiliar with the rituals of the night, prepare for lots of standing, sitting, eating and drinking – Scots don’t celebrate this half-heartedly. If you don’t know your neep from your tattie don’t fear, you just need to be up for a good time (heads up: it helps if you like whisky).
Free Whisky for Kilt Wearers
As if you needed any inspiration to don your finest kilt on the most important date in the Scottish calendar, but just in case you do Island Grill restaurant on Hyde Park will be offering every diner wearing a kilt a complimentary dram of whisky. Soak it up with an array of Scottish delights such as house-smoked salmon; haggis croquettes; and chargrilled Ayrshire pork cutlet with white pudding and a whisky jus.
A Traditional Haggis Feast
On Monday 25th January, Chelsea restaurant, Rabbit and sister venue The Shed, will be celebrating Burn’s night by offering diners the perfect traditional Scottish Burn’s feast fit for the bard himself. With an array of delicious delicacies including a very special homemade haggis and Hot Toddy daily loosener to chase the winter blue away.
Where: 122 Palace Gardens Terrace, London, W8 4RT, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Notting Hill Gate (0.2 miles)
Scottish menu by a Scottish chef
London’s oldest whisky specialist, Milroy’s of Soho, has teamed up with Quo Vadis for one night only to create a paired Scotch whisky menu add-on to complement each of the four courses on the Burn’s Night menu. Chef patron at Quo Vadis, the Dundee-born Jeremy Lee, will be hosting the supper upstairs at the Quo Vadis members’ club with dishes like haggis, neeps and tatties and braised mutton, parslied potatoes and skirlie.
Scottish...with a touch of Indian
Great British restauranteur, Mark Hix, and comedian, Hardeep Singh Kohli, are co-hosting a Burns Night banquet for the second year running. The classic Scottish feast is receiving a little spicing up in honour of Hardeep’s Indian heritage – haggis fritters come with pani puri (filled crisp ‘panis’ filled with chickpeas). Each course is paired with whisky and Hardeep and Hix will be entertaining diners throughout the meal. From 6pm each evening from the 20th-29th January, Brown’s Hotel’s Library Bar will turn into a whisky pop-up so the celebrations can continue.
Where: Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4BP, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
A Scottish Celebration in a Scottish Restaurant
For a truly authentic Burns Night, Scottish restaurant Boisdale’s is where you’ll want to head. They’ll be celebrating the occasion across their three venues (Belgravia, Bishopsgate and Canary Wharf) with set menus, a haggis address and a piper in full Highland regalia but for the full experience, you’ll want to head over to Canary Wharf. Hosted by Glenfiddich brand ambassador Mark Thomson, the 4-course dinner pairs oak smoked salmon with 12 year old whisky and roast wild venison with a 15 year old Solera.
Where: Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4QT, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Canary Wharf DLR Station (0 miles)
Whisky Tasting Workshop
If Scotland is a bit too far North for a Monday night, go to NW6 instead. The Gallery in West Hampstead are hosting a special Burn’s Night Whisky 101 event (the first in a series of tasting workshops taking place this coming year). Bar manager and whisky-lover, Daniel Pavey, is hosting the evening in the format of a tasting exploration from the Highlands to the Lowlands. Guests can make notes as they taste, amongst others, 15 year-old Glenfarclas and 10 year-old Talisker before moving on to three different Scottish beers, all soaked up by a serving of haggis.
Cocktails and Ceilidh Dancing
After a feast of haggis, you’ll want to work some of it off, so dancing is the perfect answer. Combine this with an evening of whisky cocktails and you’ll definitely be searching for the nearest dance floor. A 5-course Scottish supper is taking place in B&H’s gorgeous greenhouse room, with the compulsory haggis welcome, address and toast ritual with live background music. Polish up on your best Scottish accent because you’ll be reciting Auld Lang Syne before hitting the floor for a ceilidh. An intimate and informal whisky tasting is taking place the same evening downstairs – start there and then join the banquet upstairs for the complete experience.
Special set menu by a Michelin-trained chef
Dine in style in the capable hands of Michelin-trained Head Chef and bona fide Scotsman, Tommy Boland, who will be serving up slow cooked duck egg with Haggis, poached Scottish langoustines to start and grilled rib of Ayrshire beef. Kick things off with an aperitif on arrival and a warming dram of Balvenie whisky at the end of the meal.
A Paired Scotch Whisky Menu at Outlaw's at The Capital
Sit down to a 5-course dinner created by acclaimed chef Nathan Outlaw, which will be accompanied by carefully selected whiskies chosen by The Capital’s Bar Manager, Cesar Da Silva who, as the UK’s youngest Keeper of the Quaich, has been noted for his passion for and contribution to the Scotch whisky industry. The hotel will also be offering a cheese and whisky experience where guests can choose from either a whisky cocktail or straight plus Cesar will be on hand to share his expertise on all things whisky related.
Where: 22-24 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1AT, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Knightsbridge (0.2 miles)
An evening of Scottish themed dishes
Celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns in style as Jones will be serving up some Scottish themed dishes in a nod to the Scottish legend. Guests can choose from a starter of mini Haggises served with textures of neeps and tatties, the Venison Wellington with scotch sauce, braised cabbages and crispy broccoli main and the traditional Scottish dessert of layered Cranachan. Participate in a ‘toast to the lassies’ with The Jones Dram, made with Chivas Regal 12-year blended Scotch and Drambuie, to complete your evening.
Deep Fried Mars Bars
The Lady Ottoline on Northington Street are serving up a special Burns Night menu with dishes including a special starter of black pudding salad with red cabbage, the traditional Haggis, neeps ‘n’ tatties and for dessert there’ll be a deep-fried Mars Bar with homemade caramel ice cream – we’re sure Robbie Burns would have a been fan if he were here to try it.
Where: 11A Northington Street, London WC1N 2JF, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Farringdon (London) (0.4 miles)