In Scotland, Robert Burns is just “The Bard,” an 18th-century Romantic poet revered for a body of work that includes “Auld Lang Syne,” “To a Mouse” and “Scots Wha Hae.” Polls run by television channel STV and Who’s Who in Scotland have named Burns the greatest Scotsman ever.
Every January, Burns’s legacy is celebrated around the globe at dinners called Burns Nights, which are fueled by Scotch, poetry readings and more Scotch — all the better to prepare for the inevitable servings of haggis.
Haggis, for those who’ve never tried the “earthy” Scottish dish, is a traditional peasant’s meal of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver mixed with oatmeal, onions and seasonings, and then cooked inside the animal’s stomach. One of Burns’s most famous poems, “Address to a Haggis,” hails the dish as “Great Chieftain o the puddin’-race,” assuring its place at the center of the Burns Night dinner.
Burns’s birthday is Sunday, though dinners in the Washington area are spread out across several days. Some require tickets in advance, but others are more casual. Kilts are always optional.
The Queen Vic
1206 H St. NE. 202-396-2001.
The Saltire flies outside this H Street NE pub, which always serves Scottish ale and whisky. Saturday and Sunday, a special Burns Night menu will include an appetizer of Scotch eggs — a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried — and a main course of haggis meatballs with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes). The two courses are $23 together or $7 for the Scotch eggs and $16 for the haggis. Food can be served with an optional pairing of three 10-ounce Scottish ales from Belhaven ($10) or three small pours of Glenmorangie or Aberlour Scotches ($12), or the flights can be served on their own.
The St. Andrew’s Society
Saturday at 7 p.m. Belle Haven
Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Rd.,
The St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, a charitable and cultural organization for men of Scottish descent, hosts an annual Burns Nicht Supper at Alexandria’s Belle Haven Country Club. Tickets are $95, which includes all food and drink, and must be purchased in advance. The dinner begins with toasts to the president and the queen, and continues with toasts and poetry throughout the evening. Dress is “Highland evening dress, military dress, or black tie.”
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m.
2007 18th St. NW. 202-588-7388.
It makes sense that the bar with the most Scotch in Washington is throwing a party in honor of Robert Burns: The informal cocktail party in Jack Rose’s cozy basement bar includes free Scottish hors d’oeuvres, readings of Burns’s poetry by resident Scotch expert Harvey Fry and a selection of four single malts on tap for the evening. There’s no cover charge and no reservations are needed, though the small space may fill up.
Mad Fox Brewing Company
Monday at 6:30 p.m. 444 W. Broad St.,
Falls Church. 703-942-6840.
The five-course meal at Mad Fox includes haggis sausage; a Lancashire Hotpot of lamb, bacon, potatoes and onions; and a cock-a-leekie soup with leeks, barley and prunes in a chicken consommé. (The full menu is available on the Mad Fox Web site.) Each course will arrive with a beer from the award-winning brewpub, including the flagship Wee Heavy Scotch Ale and the traditional 80 Shilling Ale. Beyond food and drink, the evening includes a bagpiper and poetry readings. Tickets are $75, which includes tax and tip.