January 25 isn't an official holiday in Scotland, but it might as well be. The birthday of national poet Robert Burns is traditionally celebrated with Burns Night, large dinners that include recitations of his most famous works, multiple toasts with glasses of Scotch, and, most importantly, haggis.
Haggis, a traditional peasant's meal, involves mixing a sheep's heart, lungs and liver with oatmeal, onions and seasonings, and then cooking the lot inside the animal's stomach. One of Burns's most famous poems, "Address to a Haggis," hails the dish as "Great Chieftan o the Puddin-race." Naturally, it's a big favorite at Burns Night.
In this country, Burns Night is popular with Scottish expats and fans of Scotch whisky. Some of the biggest and best celebrations are held by alumni from Cambridge and Edinburgh universities, or the black-tie dinner for members of the St. Andrew's Society. Haggis isn't always on the menu at Burns Night, but fellowship is. Here are three places to raise a glass on Saturday night.
The Queen Vic
The H Street pub, which flies the royal standard of Scotland, is celebrating Burns Night with a three-course meal of a Scotch egg, haggis and a traditional sticky toffee pudding for $30. For an extra $12, you can pair the meal with a flight of three Scottish beers: Belhaven's Twisted Thistle IPA, Scottish Ale and Wee Heavy. (You can also get the beer tasting without ordering the haggis.) The menu is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, with no reservations.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Home to the largest selection of Scotch whisky in the region, Jack Rose is a natural place to honor Rabbie Burns. The Burns Night celebration takes place in the intimate cellar bar from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Four Scotches will be sold for $5 per one-ounce pour. Harvey Fry, the Scotch connoisseur whose collection forms the backbone of Jack Rose's offerings, will read a selection of Burns poems at 7 p.m. There's no cover charge.
UPDATE: The four specially priced Scotches, which will all be on draft, are Glendronach 12, Arran Malt Whisky Galore, Talisker Storm and Balvenie DoubleWood.
Mad Fox Brewing Company
The annual (and previously announced) Burns Night dinner at Mad Fox Brewing Company has been cancelled. However, the bar is pouring its award-winning Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, which is the best local example of this sweet, rich style of beer. It's the perfect way to raise a toast to the Bard.