Another month, another feast day. But instead of turkeys, champers and the ickle baby Jesus, it’s all about haggis, whisky and a poet called Rabbie Burns. There are plenty of places where you can enjoy a wee dram on Burns’ Night (25th January) but here’s our pick of the best:
Best for early birds:
This Nose Know Whisky
If you can’t wait for the day itself (and who can blame you?), book up for this sumptuous evening of fine food, water of life and sparkling conversation. Enjoy three mouthwatering courses (beef and whisky cured tea horseradish dumplings, treacle cured Scottish salmon, ginger soda bread, and that’s just for starters) paired with six tip-top whiskies. The evening includes a whisky masterclass and Q&A session with Master Blender Richard Paterson whose nose is in such demand, it’s been insured by Lloyds of London for $2.6million. That’s surely worth the ticket price alone.
Tickets £25 industry concession; £45 per person when booked in advance.
Reform Social & Grill, Mandeville Place, W1U 2BE. Reservations: 020 7224 1624. reformsocialgrill.com.
Best for traditionalists:
Burns Night at 1 Lombard Street
Poetry, pipes, whiskies and a menu including haggis, neeps and tatties at the Burns’ Night Dinner and Dance at this City institution. There’s a complimentary whisky drink in it for anyone brave enough to wear a kilt
Tickets £40 per person.
1 Lombard Street, EC3V 9AA. T: 020 7929 9511. 1lombardstreet.com.
Best for whisky geeks:
The History of Whisky
Whisky gets the multi-sensory treatment courtesy of our favourite man of the dram Colin Dunn and the chaps from WSWS. This two-hour entertainment takes you through the story of whisky from the beginning of time through to the present day and beyond, via six mind-bogglingly different serves including jellies, aromas and music. You even get to blend your own whisky which is served with a cigar (albeit a tasty chocolate one).
Tickets £90 per person for groups of at least 4. Worship Street Whistling Shop, 63 Worship Street, EC2A 2DU. T: 020 7247 0015. whistling shop.com.
Best for cocktail lovers:
Talk To The Haggis
Whisky cocktails are a speciality here and Burn’s Night is the perfect excuse to work your way through the menu, purely in the name of research you understand. In honour of the great poet’s birthday, Andrea and co. will be serving up special cocktails including Mr Walker’s Bonnie Bru with Johnnie Walker and Irn Bru syrup ,or try The Scottish Verdict, Monkey Shoulder whisky stirred down with 16 year old Lagavulin and Truffle Bitters. The restaurant is equally respectful, offering up haggis with all the trimmings plus the obligatory deep-fried Mars Bar for those with a sweet tooth.
Beard To Tail, 77 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS. T: 020 7729 2966. beardtotail.co.uk.
Best for D.I.Yers:
The Whisky Shop
Trade in your Friday night fish and chips for haggis (go for MacSween’s available from all good supermarkets), mashed potatoes (tatties) and mashed turnips (neeps). Of course, you’ll need a dram of whisky to go with. The Whisky Shop have thoughtfully compiled a guide of the best whiskies to enjoy with the distinctive spicy flavour of haggis. It includes the silky rich Longmorn 16 year old, £64.99; the classic Speyside Strathisla 12 year old, £34.99, and the delightfully fruity, soft and delicious Auchentoshan 12 year old, £36. Seeing as they’ve gone through much trouble, it would be rude not to partake.
For your nearest store, see thewhiskyshop.com.
Slainté, as they say in Scotland (or cheers if you can’t work out how to pronounce it).