Dram is the new bar on Denmark Street (aka Tin Pan Alley, aka the street that Cormoran Strike lives on in the BBC series Strike) that is doing whisky a bit differently than, say, Milroy’s nearby (although the founders previously worked at the now defunct Spitalfields branch of the venerable institute for connoisseurs). It’s a warren of individual bar rooms with different feels, including a pool room with a vending machine for canned cocktails, and a tasting room.
The latter will host three evenings of Burns Night events, starting on Burns Night itself and going into Burns Boxing Day and Burns Twixtmas. Each is happening in partnership with a different single malt Scotch distillery, and will include some rarities in the tastings, as well as cocktails.
Benromach launches the series on Thursday 25 January itself, with a great-value tasting, including an organic whisky, 10-year-old, 15-year-old, 21-year-old and a dram from its rare range, all for only £40pp.
On Friday 26, smoky Talisker drifts in from Skye with a very high-end tasting (£100pp): a Talisker canned highball to whet the palate, then the 25-year-old, 30-year-old, a 1978 41-year-old from the Bodega series and the recently released 45-year-old Glacial Edge, which was finished in casks whose staves were left exposed on a Canadian glacier to freeze and crack, increasing the wood contact when they were returned to Scotland.
The series ends on Saturday 27 when Speyside’s Craigellachie hosts a tasting of its core range (13-year-old, 17-year-old, 21-year-old) plus an exceptional old single-cask bottling, for £40pp.
Dram Bar, 7 Denmark Street, London WC2; drambar.co.uk
Craigellachie will be having a busy time in London that week – it is also the featured whisky at a Burns Supper at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf (near Canary Wharf). Hosted in the private dining room, the meal will include Craigellachie-cured salmon crowdie; a 35-day dry-aged grass-fed sirloin served alongside ash-baked neeps and tatties, fried onion, and bone-marrow skirlie, beef dripping Lorne sausages and whisky peppercorn sauce; Neal’s Yard Scottish cheeses and a marmalade pudding with Craigellachie custard. All courses will be paired with a Craigellachie single malt.
£100pp, including a welcome cocktail; eventbrite.co.uk
Meanwhile, sister distillery Aberfeldy brings together Scottish and Japanese whisky culture at Nobu Hotel’s Burns Night Whisky Masterclass. After a Bobby Burns cocktail on arrival, Aberfeldy brand ambassador India Blanch will guide guests through an evening of tastings. Chefs from Nobu have created a selection of Japanese and Scottish fusion canapés to accompany specific drams, and the evening concludes with a slam poetry session.
Tickets, £20pp; designmynight.com/nobuxaberfeldy
Aberfeldy is also the whisky partner at a less formal Burns Night at Bethnal Green’s neighbourhood cocktail bar, The Sun Tavern. Cocktails and drams (they’ll even let you top-up aged single malts with ginger beer without a wince!) will be served between 6pm and 2am. There are free Deeney’s haggis canapés, spoken word performances and a late-night DJ set From Scottish fashion icon, Pam Hogg. No need to book, but you can.
On both the 25th itself and Friday 26, EC1 will echo with the traditional Clerkenwell sound of, er, bagpipes, as Bourne & Hollingsworth hosts Burns Night events. This one is fully traditional, with the haggis receiving a proper piping, as well as The Address. There’s a live band and ceilidh dancing too, with the option of a Glenmorangie whisky tasting; but the booking is structured so that anyone who is not a whisky fan or a haggis fan can opt out of either the set menu or the drams – £95 all in; £70 for the banquet and a welcome cocktail; £45 for the whisky tasting by itself.
Dovetale is the Tom Sellers restaurant at 1 Hotel Mayfair, just off Berkeley Street. This winter, it has opened a covered terrace with a fireplace, for relaxing with a drink – as is the way with such spaces these days, it has been opened in partnership with a luxury drinks brand: Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Plans for Burns Night are low-key but bar director Matteo Carretta will be introducing four new winter-warmer cocktails: Spice Kentish Smash (which contains Singleton 12YO, mulled spice syrup, and apple and pear consommé); Winter Cabin Coffee (a take on Irish Coffee, made with Johnnie Walker Black Label, cold-brew coffee liqueur, white chocolate cream etc); Fireside Sipper (Johnnie Walker Blue Label with maple syrup, Frangelico and orange bitter) and a WarmWood Highball (Johnnie Walker Blue Label with sweet vermouth and jasmine and peach soda).
Wiltons restaurant on Jermyn Street, a St James’s institution since the 18th century frequented by our own inspiration, Beau Brummell, is another destination marking Burns Night – but without a song and dance (or poetry recital). For one night only, head chef Daniel Kent is presenting a Scottish tasting menu – including haggis, naturally.