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Top 10 Burns Night shindigs in London and Edinburgh

“My love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June; my love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in tune”. So wrote Scottish bard Robert Burns in his 1794 poem, A Red, Red Rose.

Rock star poet Robert Burns (sunglasses added post portrait)

As loved and celebrated in Scotland as Shakespeare is in England, the bard’s birthday – 25 January 1759 – is marked every year with Burns Night suppers and raucous celebrations involving indecent amounts of haggis and whisky.

Regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, the rather dashing looking lyricist became a cultural icon in Scotland after his death in 1796 and his influence has never been stronger.

In 2009 Burns, who wrote New Year’s Eve favourite Auld Lang Syne, was voted the greatest Scot by the Scottish public, narrowly beating William Wallace.

His poems are known for their spontaneity, directness and sincerity.

If you’re keen to toast the poet next Wednesday with a wee dram, then read on for our round-up of the best Burns Night events talking place in London and Edinburgh.

Burns week at Mac & Wild

Hipster Scottish restaurant Mac & Wild has gone hard on the Burns Night theme with a week-long celebration in honour of the bard. Famous for its Veni-Moo burger – a divine marriage of venison and beef oozing with cheese and béarnaise ­– the restaurant’s Devonshire Square site will be hosting a haggis making class on Monday 23 at 6:30 for £40 including cocktails and snacks.

Attendees will have the chance to get down and dirty while whipping up one of Scotland’s most famous dishes. Just don’t ask what’s in it… The following night the Fitzrovia flagship will host a whisky and beer pairing evening (6:30pm, £45), which will include drams from Bruichladdich and suds from the Black Isle Brewery.

On Burns Night itself, guests can sign up for a gargantuan feast for just £35 at both sites, featuring neeps and tatties, venison wellington and millionaire’s shortbread. They’ve even roped in rugby stars Jim Hamilton and Thom Evans to address the haggis. And if that wasn’t enough, the following night the Devonshire Square site will be serving free Monkey Shoulder cocktails from 4-8pm, with live music until the wee hours.

Clandestine Curling Competition at Happiness Forgets

Rather than something you do to your hair before a big night out, curling is essentially boulles on ice where players have to slide giant stones into circular targets. The quirky sport was invented on frozen lochs in medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to it coming from the records of Paisley Abbey in Renfrewshire in February 1541.

Popular during his lifetime, Burns referenced curling in his poem Tam Samson’s Elegy. If you fancy giving it a go then head down to über cool cocktail bar Happiness Forgets in Hotxon between 12-4pm on 29 February where a ‘clandestine curling competition’ will be put on by Hendrick’s gin. Rather than on ice, the tournament will take place on the bar, where 24 mixologists will battle it out in a miniature version of the game.

Haggis cocktail at The Bon Vivant

It might sound offal, but Scotch distillery Glen Grant has collaborated with Edinburgh bar The Bon Vivant on a bespoke Burns Night cocktail made with haggis. Dubbed The Chieftain after Burns’ famous description of haggis: “great chieftain o’ the pudding race”, the leftfield libation is the creation of bartender Will Cox, who based the ingredients of the drink on a traditional Burns Night supper.

The savoury cocktail blends oat-washed Glen Grant 10 Year Old, an offal stock syrup, salt and pepper air, turnip cordial and pickled red onion. It comes with a haggis butter crumb rim and is presented on a book of Burns’ poetry. The daring drink will be on sale for one night only next Wednesday priced at £9 a pop.

Haggis toasties at Kerb

Street food market Kerb will be getting into the Scottish spirit on 27 and 28 January with its Burns Hootenanny event in collaboration with Monkey Shoulder at The Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey.

Expect Scottish street food like haggis-laced mac ‘n’ cheese from The Wild Game Co; Macbeth Toasties from Deeney’s oozing with haggis, cheddar, caramelised onion, rocket and mustard; and chicken schnitzels rammed with haggis, celeriac and candied beets from Ghetto Grillz.

Once the Monkey Shoulder Old Fashioneds are flowing the Highland games will begin, followed by a traditional ceilidh and a poetry slam – this is Burns Night for the Instagram generation.

Burns Night shindig at Milroy’s

London’s oldest whisky shop Milroy’s will host to a lively Burns Night shindig on Wednesday 25 with haggis cocktails and free whisky drams. The shop has created a bespoke cocktail for the event laced with R&B Distillers’ lightly peated single malt Raasay While We Wait – the drink is a peppery play on the classic Bobby Burns cocktail inspired by the spicing used in haggis. Attendees will be treated to a free dram of the second batch of Raasay While We Wait.

Compass Box of treats at Craft London

Small batch whisky maker Compass Box will be showing its wares at a decadent dinner whipped up by Stevie Parle at Craft London in Greenwich next Wednesday. Costing £48 per person, each of the dishes on the four-course menu will be paired with a whisky selected by Compass Box’s brand ambassador Herman Van Broekhuizen.

Kicking off at 8pm with whisky highballs and cod’s roe crackers, expect the likes of smoked haddock broth with shaved cured egg yolk paired with Aslya; and Yorkshire lamb haggis, neeps and tatties paired with The Spice Tree and a side of poetry; with an Ecclefechan tart with buttermilk ice cream ending the evening on a sweet note.

Burns Night supper on the Royal Yacht Britannia

If you’re keen to carry on the Burns Night celebrations after the event, you can hop on the Royal Yacht Britannia, moored in Edinburgh, on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January for a right royal knees up. A piper will welcome you aboard for whisky cocktails and canapés before the four-course feast begins in the ship’s state dining room. For those keen to explore the vessel, tours are on offer.

Cullen Skink at Powder Keg Diplomacy

While it may sound like a dance move perfected by Robert Pattinson’s character in the Twilight series, Cullen Skink is in fact a thick, creamy soup bobbing with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. If you’re keen to see what all the fuss is about then head down to Power Keg Diplomacy in Clapham where the dish will form part of its Burns Night supper on Wednesday 25.

All the other Burns Night favourites from haggis to neeps and tatties will be present and correct, as will the whisky cocktails, which will flow from the restaurant’s Rifle Club Bar. Whisky nut Matthew Roberts will be on hand to guide imbibers to their perfect dram, be it peaty or lighter bodied.

Fireside supper at Borough Wines

Baby it’s cold outside. Praise the lord then for the thoughtful people at Borough Wines, who will be hosting a cosy Burns Night supper by the fireplace at their Kensal Rise shop next Wednesday lovingly created by Yorkshire-raised Rose Exall.

The £30 three-course feast begins at 7:30 and will include a tutored whisky tasting with Speyside’s Benromach Distillery. Making an appearance will be cock-a-leekie soup; haggis and potato pie and cranachan, a Scottish twist on an Eton Mess made with whipped cream, whisky, honey, raspberries and whisky-soaked toasted oatmeal.

Haggis Bolognese at New Street Grill

As db predicted earlier this year, ‘Britalian’ food is set to be big this year as Italy continues to enjoy its time in the sun in the UK while chefs remain dedicated to working with local seasonal ingredients.

Enter then, haggis bolognaise, which will be on the menu at the New Street Grill in Liverpool Street on Burns Night. The dish will be served alongside the divine sounding hazelnut-crusted venison.

Other Scottish delicacies on offer next Wednesday will be cullen skink with quails eggs and (the not so Scottish) cheesecake with raspberries drenched in Drambuie.

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