January 25th is traditionally the night where we drink a wee dram to Scotland’s Robert Burns and this year, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Burns Night in London. Whether you’re looking for the very finest single malt or an all-out evening of haggis, neeps, tatties and bagpiping, here’s where to raise a glass of whisky to the Scottish poet across the capital.
What is Burns Night?
Burns Night is an annual celebration of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, who was born on 25 January 1759 in Ayrshire. From penning Auld Lang Syne to Address to a Haggis and Tam O’ Shanter, Burns was Scotland’s most famous poet and lyricist, intrinsically linked with the country’s culture. The Scottish Bard’s life and work is honoured every January, not just by the Scots but across London and the whole of the UK.
When is Burns Night?
Burns Night is traditionally on 25 January. After Burns’s death, friends of the poet decided to mark his memory with a hearty meal of haggis and performances of his poetry. It was such a success that they decided to do it again in honour of Rabbie’s birthday on 25 January, thus beginning the Burns Night tradition that we continue to enjoy to this day.
Where can I celebrate Burns Night in London?
We’ve curated the best places to celebrate the 18th century poet in the capital, from the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties accompanied by drams of whisky and tartan-clad bagpipers, to a more contemporary twist on the proceedings.
The best places to Celebrate Burns Night in London
Burns Supper at L’Epicerie with The Balvenie at Claridge’s, Mayfair
Claridge’s celebrates Burns Night in London with an intimate evening at L’Epicerie on Thursday 25 January. The event, hosted by The Balvenie’s UK Brand Ambassador Sean Fennelly, promises “cocktails, stories and drams”, not to mention a one-off Scottish menu from Claridge’s Culinary Director Simon Attridge, who has drawn on his time spent in Perthshire for inspiration.
Kick off with drinks and canapés in the beautiful art deco surroundings of the Painters’ Room bar, before dinner in L’Epicerie, where guests will have front row seats to the culinary theatre of the kitchen. All the Scottish favourites will be served, including cullen skink, haggis, neeps and tatties, Scottish beef fillet, and clementine cranachan, each course paired with a dram of The Balvenie single malt or a glass of wine selected by Director of Wine, Lupo Thoenes. The evening ends with poetry and verse from Robert Burns, courtesy of the West End’s Cara Ballingall. £250 per person. Booking is essential.
Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Cockney Burns Night Supper Club at The Pelican, Notting Hill
The Pelican on All Saints Road has been a much loved neighbourhood pub for years, with W11 residents flocking to its handsome bar for drinks, the jolly live music nights and excellent food. A lot of thought goes into the menus, with a focus on local producers who use sustainable production methods, including those that promote biodiversity and regenerative farming.
On Thursday 25 January, pub goers can celebrate Robert Burns – but with a London twist – at the Cockney Burns Night Supper Club. This unique take on the proceedings starts with a welcome cocktail, followed by a three-course feast that will, of course, pay homage to Scotland (cullen skink; haggis, neeps and tatties; rhubarb and pear cranachan), each dish paired with whisky from East London Liquor Company. As guests eat, Burns’s poetry will be recited by a Scotsman, alternated with original Cockney poetry to “explore the intricate relationship between England and Scotland”. £75 per person. Booking is essential.
Burns Night Dinner at Ham Yard Hotel, Soho
Experience a taste of the Highlands at Ham Yard, Kit Kemp’s boutique hotel in Soho, where the Scottish celebrations will be in full swing on Thursday 25 January with a celebratory Burns Night dinner. The event, which takes place in the Windmill Room, begins with canapés and cocktails, followed by a five-course Scottish-inspired feast overseen by executive chef Jamie Atkinson and paired with a selection of whiskies.
As guests tuck into the likes of Loch Fyne smoked salmon served on heather honey with rye; the obligatory haggis, neeps and tatties; venison wellington; and burnt orange brûlée, the team from Islay-based, B-Corp certified distillery Bruichladdich will be on hand to talk them through the different whiskies served, from The Classic Laddie to a peaty Port Charlotte 10. £100 per person. Booking is essential.
Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, Soho, London W1D 7DT
Burns Supper at Home House, Marylebone
Home House is one of the most beautiful – and exclusive – private members’ clubs in London, spread across a trio of Georgian townhouses in Portman Square, Marylebone. Originally designed by George III’s architect James Wyatt in the 18th century, it has been immaculately restored and now offers members all the 21st century luxuries including restaurants and bars, a boutique gym and health spa, elegant rooms and suites and a courtyard garden.
As you’d expect, the Burns Supper on Wednesday 24 January – open to members and guests – has been exquisitely curated. The “Scottish knees-up” takes place in the Front Parlour & Eating Room in House 20 where, after canapés and chilled Champagne on arrival, guests will be served a four-course feast – cullen skink, haggis and all the traditional accompaniments, Scottish steak pie, and a blood orange and marmalade steamed pudding, served with specially chosen wines and a Glenmorangie 10-year-old whisky. Addressing the haggis and bagpiping will add to the spirit of Burns Night. £95 per person. Booking is essential.
Tam O’ Shanter Night at Quo Vadis, Soho
The historic Soho restaurant and members’ club is no stranger to a celebration, not least with Quo Vadis & Friends. Now in its eighth year, the series sees chef-proprietor Jeremy Lee MBE invite his culinary friends to come and cook for members and non-members alike. The convivial evenings typically take place at long, family-style tables in the 2nd floor ‘Marx’ private dining room and Blue Room, after which guests can carry on the fun in the QV Club downstairs.
The first of this year’s line-up is… Tam O’ Shanter Night on Wednesday 31 January, which bills itself as an alternative to Burns Night and is dedicated to another poem by Burns (rather than the usual Address to a Haggis). Alongside Lee Tiernan and the FKABAM team in the kitchen, there’ll be bagpiping and plenty of fun besides. If you can’t get your hands on a ticket, other Quo Vadis & Friends events later in the year include Joe Woodhouse on 21 February, Sami Tamimi on 20 March, Ravinder Bhogal on 22 May and Hector Henderson and Celeste Kennedy-Doig on 5 June. Booking is essential.
Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3LL
The Glenrothes at Harrods, Knightsbridge
Investing in a bottle of high-end, small batch whisky is the perfect way to celebrate the Scottish Bard. The Glenrothes creates and curates rare, aged single malts, which are crafted in the heart of Speyside (and are available at Harrods). Indeed, under the experienced eye of Master Whisky Maker Laura Rampling, it’s one of the few distilleries that still uses its own private water source during production. The result? One of the best wee drams in the world.
Or if you’re really looking to push the boat out this Burns Night, consider Philos. The unique, sculptural objet is the brainchild of The Glenrothes, its purpose to protect, and pour, the very best whisky while at sea. Created by London-based Studio Indigo and master craftspeople Little Halstock in Dorset, it is a lesson in detailing, as beautifully engineered as it is to look at. Meeting at the intersection of yachting, whisky and design, it also comes with the fabled Demijohn 1969, so rare that Rampling describes it as a “unicorn whisky”.
Burns Night with Skua at Carousel, Fitzrovia
Carousel on Charlotte Street, W1, is home to an ever-changing line-up of guest chef collaborations, workshops and events. On Friday 26 January, the creative foodie hub hosts an evening celebrating Rabbie Burns with a tasting menu curated and cooked by one of Scotland’s most exciting chefs Tomás Gormley and his team, who’ll be travelling down from their restaurant Skua in Edinburgh for the night.
Expect a five-course tasting menu, showcasing innovative creations from his Stockbridge-based restaurant, using ingredients from the finest Scottish suppliers. Think the likes of hand-dived Orkney scallops served with whisky ponzu, blood orange and wasabi peas; Scottish lamb with harissa and aubergine; and spiced apple cranachan. The dinner is held in partnership with Aberfeldy Single Malt Whisky, so expect a few drams throughout the course of the night. £75 per person including a welcome drink. Booking is essential.
Carousel, 19-23 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1RL
Burns Night at The Cadogan Arms, Chelsea
The buzzing Cadogan Arms on King’s Road (and its sister pub The George in Fitzrovia) are planning a Scottish extravaganza on Thursday 25 January in honour of the Scottish poet and lyricist. Expect live bagpipers, a traditional recitation of Burns’s famous ode to the savoury pudding Address to a Haggis, and good craic.
Plus, of course, there’ll be Scottish fare a-plenty, with whisky-cured smoked salmon, venison and haggis wellington, followed by cranachan (a traditional combination of cream, raspberries, oats and whisky, it’s often referred to as the “uncontested king of Scottish desserts”). The menu also includes two limited-edition whisky cocktails – The Highland Gimlet and the Mulled Aberfeldy Sour – as well as a dram of Aberfeldy 12-year-old to toast to Burns. £75 per person. Booking is essential.
The Regenerative Burns Night Menu at the Duke of Cambridge, Islington
The Duke of Cambridge was Britain’s first ever organic pub, certified by the Soil Association since 1998. It continues to serve the freshest seasonal ingredients from local organic farmers and growers, while all the drinks are thoughtfully and responsibly sourced. Burns Night is no exception, with head chef Rico Abella serving up a one-off menu on Thursday 25 January which centres around regenerative principles.
Courses include cullen skink – the classic thick Scottish soup here served with the addition of Cornish white fish; haggis, neeps and tatties, the regeneratively farmed meat from the Rhug Estate in Wales; clootie dumplings packed with dried fruits and spices; and cranachan. During the evening, a bagpiper dressed in full highland attire will pipe the haggis in. £45 per person. Booking is essential.