Most Scots regard Burns Night as a day of national celebration. Marking the life and works of renowned Scottish poet Rabbie Burns (1759 to 1796), traditional festivities every 25th January include a hearty supper with poetry readings, bagpipes and a few drams of whisky.
But you don’t need to be a traditionalist – or Scottish – to enjoy a Burns-themed drinks party that will liven up the dark days of winter. A classic Burns feast – haggis, neeps (turnips or swede) and tatties (mashed potatoes) – would usually be the order of the day: fine for a sit-down meal but maybe less suited to a more informal gathering.
Instead, try capturing the spirit of Burns Night by taking the various elements and using them in a more contemporary way.
Give haggis a chance
Considering haggis as an ingredient – rather than as the star of the show – will give you more opportunity to win over the sceptics. Mix crumbled haggis with sausagemeat in roughly half-and-half proportions to make sausage rolls or snack-sized scotch eggs (with ready-to-eat quail eggs from the supermarket). Thankfully, food specialist Macsween now produce a tasty and authentic vegetarian haggis designed to suit non-meat-eaters and squeamish carnivores, alike.
Make mini neep and tattie cakes by cooking potatoes and swede till tender in boiling salted water, then draining and mashing together with butter, pepper and nutmeg. Leave till cool and shape into ovals, ready to fry to perfection. If you’d rather prepare everything ahead of time, use a mandolin to layer slices of waxy potato and swede together with garlic-infused cream in a roasting tin and baking for two hours in a moderate oven. Cover with foil and serve slices when just warm.
Whisky with a twist
Perhaps not a popular opinion on this particular day of celebration but (whispers it) not everyone appreciates a nip of neat whisky. If you want to cater for a broader range of palates and preferences, you’ll need to stock up on wine and soft drinks as well as a wee drop of scotch. Having a few ready-to-drink cocktail options on hand might also ease the bartender’s burden on the night.
A bourbon-based Old Fashioned could be a popular option. Sweetened with sugar syrup and complemented with a dash of aromatic bitters and fragrant oranges, it’s the perfect choice for your Burns Night guests. Maybe spread your bets – and make party planning a whole lot easier – by ordering Edmunds’ Old Fashioned as part of a crowd-pleasing Rocks Collection?