Whether you’re Scottish or not, celebrating Burns Night is a great excuse to enjoy delicious hearty food, drink copious amounts of whisky, and party the night away!
The event takes place in celebration of the life of Scotland’s most loved bard, Robert Burns (best known for the poem Auld Lang’s Syne).
Festivities are held every year on 25th January – which just so happens to have been Burns’ birthday!
Celebrations are traditionally Scottish, and vary from huge dinner parties to smaller get-togethers – always with the main focus on plentiful food, drink and merriment.
At the bigger Burns Night parties, a piper welcomes in the guests; followed by the host announcing the entertainment for the evening. The night then progresses onto the most anticipated element – consuming the traditional haggis!
This is considered such a special part of the event that a prayer by Burns is read aloud just before the haggis is presented to the room:
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
However, before guests can even think about tucking in, there is still a bit more to the process of celebrating this traditional cuisine.
It is customary for guests to stand whilst pipes are played to welcome in the haggis, and then a reader stands to give a rendition of ‘To a Haggis’.
Finally, a toast is given, with all attendees raising a glass and shouting: “The haggis!”
Other delicacies in addition to the haggis are cock-a-leekie soup, and Clootie Dumpling for dessert (a pudding prepped in cloth).
Toast to the Lassies
After the food has been consumed, it is traditional for one of the men to give a speech thanking the women for making the meal – although in recent years the speeches have become more informal and tongue-in-cheek.
The ladies also now get their own right to reply, with an equally feisty but affectionate dedication to the men!
What to drink on Burns Night
The drink most associated with Burns Night is Scotch whisky.
If you’re not a whisky drinker however, there are a variety of other drink choices that provide a good accompaniment to the dish. Whilst white wine does not complement quite so well, red wine makes for a delicious alternative.
Other options include punch, ales, Scottish fruit wine, lager – or even Irn Bru (Scotland’s other national drink!).
Bobby Burns cocktail
The Bobby Burns is a whisky-based cocktail named after Rober Burns himself.
Bartender Harry Craddock praised the Bobby Burns in his works The Savoy Cocktail Book, as “one of the very best whisky cocktails.”
- 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- 1 1/2 oz Scotch whisky
- 1 1/4 tsp benedictine herbal liquer
- 1 twist lemon peel
Stir all ingredients (except lemon peel) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Add the twist of lemon peel and serve with shortbread on the side!
And finally, we reveal Robert Burns’ (alleged) Favourite Drink!
If none of those tipples take your fancy, you could of course just stick to Robert Burns’ favourite drink – the Ice Republic Strawberry Daiquiri Cocktail Mixer!
Surely out of respect for the great man himself, it is only right to celebrate with his beloved drink of choice!