Burns Night is a major celebration marked on a Scot’s calendar.

The annual festivities are a “welcome excuse” to feast, toast and boast about Scotland’s cultural contribution to the world – including Scotch whisky production.

Considered Scotland’s “other” national day (next to St. Andrew’s Day in November), Burns Night takes place every year on January 25th, praising the life and work of Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Born in 1759, Robert “Rabbie” Burns is widely regarded as the national bard (or poet, in Celtic cultures) of Scotland – thanks to his famous poems penned in the Scots language and other dialect. Festivities normally include a “Burns Supper,” featuring poetry readings throughout the large meal like Burns’ creative works: To a Mouse, Tam o’Shanter, and, of course, Auld Lang Syne.

After Rabbie Burns’ passing of poor health in 1796, nine of the bard’s close friends gathered together to mark the fifth anniversary of his death in July 1801. That first “Burns Club” was held in the poet’s family cottage in Alloway, and it was very similar to the modern celebrations happening today: a haggis supper, performances of Burns’ own poems and songs, and a toast to honor the great poet. That night’s success turned into a popular holiday held on his birthday instead.

This 2021, celebrations will be vastly different. Due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions, large ticketed events and suppers are forbidden (especially in Scotland). However, folks will still be able to host a Burns Night at home with haggis, recitals, and whisky salutes.

Below are three bartender-approved Scotch whisky cocktails to consume throughout the first Burns Big Night In digital celebration, hosted by the National Trust for Scotland (and broadcasted from the Ayrshire cottage where the bard was born).

At night’s end, watch the Trust thank all guests for coming (virtually) then stand to sing Auld Lang Syne, crossing and joining hands at the line: “And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!”

A Cup of Kindness

A Cup of Kindness

A CUP OF KINDNESS

By Mary Palac, Bartender at Paper Plane in San Jose, CA

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Aberlour A’bunadh Alba
  • 1/2 oz. Blanc Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Italian Amaro
  • 1/2 oz. Crème de Pêche
  • 1 dash Five-Spice Bitters

Preparation: Add all of the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a rocks glass filled with a large ice cube. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Port Ellen Sour

Port Ellen Sour

PORT ELLEN SOUR

By Cameron George, Mixologist and Ardbeg Brand Ambassador 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Ardbeg Wee Beastie
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 11/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Maple Syrup
  • 2 Sage Leaves

Preparation: Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker tin. Add ice and shake for dilution. Fine strain cocktail into a coupe glass. Garnish with sage leaf and sesame oil.


Hearth & Home

Hearth & Home

HEARTH & HOME

By Mary Palac, Bartender at Paper Plane in San Jose, CA

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Aberlour A’bunadh
  • 1/2 oz. Oloroso Sherry
  • 1/2 oz. Earl Grey Honey*
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters

Preparation: Stir until well chilled and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh grated cinnamon.

*Earl Grey Honey

Add 2 teabags to 1/2 cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes, then squeeze tea bags and remove. Add ½ cup of honey and a tiny pinch of salt while still hot and stir to dissolve. 

Hot Variation: Add all ingredients to toddy glass or mug. Add 5 parts hot water. Garnish with cinnamon stick.