Robert Burns was a complex individual. Literature students know him as a forerunner of the romantic poetry movement, Scottish insurgents recognize him as an early supporter of independence, and the whole world commemorates him on New Year’s Eve by singing “Auld Land Syne”. . Whichever way you look at it, you can commemorate the poet on his birthday night, January 25, officially known as Burns Night, and a perfect time for a hearty cocktail.
While you could just raise a glass of whiskey to celebrate the Scottish bard, here are three options involving high-quality spirits. The first is inspired by cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert usually made with oats, cream, whiskey and raspberries.
1 1/4 oz. Caorun Gin
1/2 oz. Calvados
1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
1/2 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz. Pasteurized egg white
Directions: Shake first six ingredients and strain twice into a highball glass filled with ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a large cinnamon stick and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
In case you didn’t know, toddy is the definitive miracle cure for everything:
Old Pulteney Salted Honey Toddy
1 3/4 oz. Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whiskey
3/4 oz. Salted toddy syrup*
1/2 oz. lemon juice
3 1/2 oz. breakfast black tea
How to use: Add hot tea to a mug with Old Pulteney, salted toddy syrup and lemon juice. Stir and garnish with a floating slice of lemon.
Salted toddy syrup
3 1/2 oz. honey
2–3 slices of ginger
1 lemon zest
Directions: To make the syrup, add the honey to a saucepan and heat it. Watch it so it bubbles and begins to darken as the sugars caramelize. While the honey is heating, brew a cup of black tea. When the honey is on the dark side, add the tea along with the ginger slices, lemon zest and a tablespoon of peppercorns. Simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, then remove from the heat and strain. While cooling, add a pinch of salt to taste.
And here is a variation of an old fashioned easy to prepare and drink:
Old fashioned Granty Burn
2 1/2 oz. Speyburn 10 years
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 dashes of orange bitters
Directions: Add ingredients to a highball glass with ice and mix well. Garnish with an orange zest.
Mark Spivak specializes in wine, spirits, food, catering and culinary travel. He is the author of several books on distilled spirits and cocktail culture, as well as three novels. Her first novel, devil’s friend, has been re-released on Amazon in print, e-book, and audiobook formats. Did America’s Greatest Leader Make a Deal With Satan for Fame and Fortune?