Burns Night's coming up hard on the horizon and — brace yourself for a shock — it looks different this year.
We've already sped past the first-time-celebrating-it-in-various-states-of-lockdown milestone for the rest of our personal favourite annual celebrations (Christmas, Halloween, birthdays, in that order).
It's only Burns Night left of the Big Four.
And it's arguably the biggest challenge of them, as it's probably the one where clasping countless other people's hands, shoulders and bodies to yours, in a crowded, sweaty hall, is the most integral part of the night (though if that's also how your Christmasses look, nothing but respect).
If we were Burns Nighting in London, in a usual year, it'd be via the Ceilidh Club or Ceilidh Liberation Front; hoping both events organisers survive the bad times and are back throwing their huge, glorious, exuberant dances by Burns Night '22 (or better, St Andrew's '21).
Till then, here're some of the best drinks to order, events to stream, and haggises to address yourself to, for this year's 25/01. Sláinte Mhath.
Whisky cocktails delivery
If you want to freestyle on the food front, you can still outsource your drinking to one of the restaurants on our (whisky-heavy) list of London's best pre-mixed cocktail delivery services here. (List also includes some virgin options, for the Dry Januaryers.)
Ceilidh in your living room
The Nest Collective and their house band, Ceilidh Liberation Front, are live-streaming a Burns Night celebration you can tune into here, 25 January, 8 pm - 9.30 pm.
Free to join, but any donations raised are going to Migrateful, an organisation running cookery classes led by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, helping to generate employment opportunities and cultural exchange.
Salon's restaurant menus are always straightforwardly lovely, mixing rich, classic British-French dishes — pies, terrines, gratins, infused butters — and inventive, seasonal touches. And their home delivery service looks just as alluring. On the Burns Night set menu: haggis scotch egg with brown sauce, potato sourdough with whipped butter, venison and pork terrine, leeks with seaweed vinaigrette, whisky sponge with toasted oats (there's also a vegetarian menu available).
Details: £69 for two, delivering on 22 January.
Hame by Adam Handling x Glenfiddich
This is the priciest set menu on the list — coming in at a cool £150 for two people, or: about double most of the others here. You do get a fair amount of drinks with that, though, including a bottle of pre-mixed whisky cocktail (involves Glenfiddich. 500ml. That's all we know about it) and a tasting selection of three Glenfiddich single malts (12yo, 15yo and 18yo).
The menu reads like rich, swaggering twists on the classics — sourdough with chicken butter, lamb Wellington with whisky and peppercorn sauce, black pudding in hazelnut butter, cranachan chocolate mousse cake.
Details: delivered on 22 January, across London. £150 for two people.
Glenfiddich and Adam Handling's restaurant will each donate £10 to The Drinks Trust for every Burns Night box bought, helping to support the hospitality industry through lockdown.
The Cavendish @ Home x Bruichladdich
Marylebone restaurant The Cavendish is doing a fairly traditional four-course menu — cock-a-leekie soup, whisky-cured salmon with pickled turnips, haggis with neeps and tatties and cranachan.
Details: £80 for two people, for four courses. The first 24 boxes ordered will also come with a small bottle of Bruichladdich's Classic Laddie.
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The Gladwins — the people behind a few great restaurants, including Soho's Sussex and Notting Hill's The Shed — are bringing the same farm-to-table approach to their Burns Night menu. Cooking instructions aren't available at time of writing, but the 'hassle-free' dinner promise suggests it'll be more re-heating and plating involved than any actual prepping. This is a three-course set menu of trout gravlax, a haggis and beef Wellington with neeps, tatties and red wine jus, and a marmalade and whisky cake.
Their in-restaurant Wellingtons are phenomenal, so if you miss the Burns Night box (only 3o available), it's worth doubling back to their website for any future delivery plans — it's a regular feature of their meal boxes.
Details: £150 for four people, for three courses each along with some gin, tonic, and a Bruichladdich dram. Delivery charges vary across London: check the delivery details here.
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Most of Mac and Wild's delivery options are for lockdown-round, not just for Burns Night: you could pull together a Scottish-slanted haggis-venison-whisky-lamb dinner any night of any lockdown week.
But they do have Burns Night specials on — the haggis taco kit would be our order, but you can freestyle from their butcher with an individual haggis or, or a ten-portion haggis Chieftain — cmon, it's lockdown, how many excessive, decadent pleasures do you have going on right now?
Details: The haggis taco kit's £30, for four people. 48-hour delivery if you place your order by 8pm. Delivery charges are kinda ornate: free delivery for orders of more than £150; for orders under £150 — £5 for each meal kit, £9 flat charge for orders from the butcher, £6 flat charge for cocktails.