Burns Night Cocktail recipes: Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival pays tribute to the bard

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is celebrating Burns Night in style by asking some of the world’s leading mixologists and whisky connoisseurs to create special cocktails honouring the bard's greatest works.

Published 25th Jan 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Dram O’ Shanter, The Speyside Grace and Best Laid Drams – the most famous works of Scotland’s national bard have been immortalised in the form of mixed drinks by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Canada’s Kaitlyn Stewart – 2017 winner of the World’s Best Bartender title – World Whisky Day founder Blair Bowman and London’s favourite celebrity nightspot Mahiki are among those to put a creative spin on the poet’s work – some of which was inspired by Scotland's national drink.

Six of the bard’s best-known poems and songs have been given a "dram-atic makeover" – Auld Dram Syne (Auld Lang Syne), Dram O’ Shanter (Tam O’ Shanter); Ae Fond Nip (Ae Fond Kiss); A Dram’s A Dram For a’ That (A Man’s A Man For a’ That); The Speyside Grace (The Selkirk Grace); and Best Laid Drams (Best Laid Plans).

Another of the new drinks is called Freedom an' Whisky Gang Thegither – a phrase used by Burns in The Author’s Earnest Cry And Prayer, a satire he penned in 1786 on the government’s taxation of whisky.

The recipes offer a contemporary take on the Bard’s work, with some of the more unusual ingredients including smoked honey, detox tea and one of Speyside’s other great exports – shortbread from Walkers of Aberlour. The base ingredients are Speyside whisky brands, all of which are leading partners of the Festival.

James Campbell, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival said: “Whisky and Robert Burns are perhaps Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world. Whisky is synonymous with warmth and friendship in just the same way as Auld Lang Syne – sung across the globe at New Year and other times of celebration – reminds us of spending time with family and friends,” James says.

“Burns referred to whisky – or guid Scotch drink as he called it – as being his muse and it features in many of his works. The popularity of whisky and Burns have both stood the test of time, so it seems fitting for us to pay tribute to these two great Scottish exports in a unique and interesting way.

“There was a time when whisky was considered an old man’s drink but these contemporary and modern cocktails completely dispel that myth. The Festival has been introducing whisky to new and younger audiences for many years, and I hope those who are passionate about whisky – whether they have it neat or in a cocktail – will give these recipes a try.”

The unique range of cocktails has been launched just ahead of Burns Night - the anniversary of the poet’s birth - as the Festival prepares to launch tickets for the 2018 event. The Festival takes place from May 3 to 7, with almost 500 events taking place over the five days across Speyside.

The programme for the Festival, which attracts both connoisseurs and the curious, will be revealed at 9am on Thursday, February 1, with tickets going on sale a few days later on Tuesday, February 6 at 12 noon. In previous years, tickets for some of the most sought-after events have sold out within minutes.

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Behind-the-scenes tours at internationally renowned distilleries not usually open to the public, whisky tasting masterclasses, whisky and food pairing – not to mention traditional music, outdoors activities and heritage events – the Festival offers something for die-hard whisky fans and those who have never tried it before.

The Burns Night Cocktail recipes:

A Dram’s A Dram for a’ That

(created by World’s Best Bartender 2017 Kaitlyn Stewart of the Royal Dinette, Vancouver)



45ml Cardhu 12 year old
15ml Banane du Brasil
15ml smoked honey
22ml fresh pressed lemon juice
1 egg white
2 dashes Bittered sling Moondog bitters

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Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and dry shake for 7-10 seconds. Add ice and wet shake for 7-10 seconds.

Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass.

For the smoked honey, take your basic honey and put into a wide mouth container. With a smoking gun, smoke the honey using cedar or applewood chips. Cover and let the smoke dissipate.

Ae Fond Nip

(Created by The Pot Still, Glasgow)

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1 biscuit of Walkers of Aberlour Ginger Royals Shortbread
25ml Strathisla 12 year old
75ml milk
Squirting cream
Cocoa powder


Smash the biscuit to smithereens – the whisky bottle makes an excellent tool for this. Mix the crumbs with the milk and use a stick blender to pulverise it into a creamy, thin porridge-like consistency. Blend in the Strathisla, serve in a Glencairn glass and garnish with a squirt of cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. The cream can be stirred in if you want a thicker consistency.

Auld Dram Syne

(Created by The Whisky Lady - blogger and owner of Hopscotch Bar in Toulouse, aka Anne-Sophie Bigot)


25ml Aberlour a’bunadh
20ml of cranberry syrup


Put in shaker with ice, give it a good shake and strain in a Champagne glass previously decorated with hazelnut powder. Top up with iced Roïboos tea - vanilla flavour works best. Garnish with orange zest.

The Speyside Grace

(Created by World Whisky Day founder and author, Blair Bowman)

Burns Night Cocktail


1 clementine
50ml Benromach 10 year old
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp of simple syrup (gomme)


Peel the clementine and save one or two segments for garnish.

Place the segments in a mixing tin and use a muddler to squeeze out as much juice as possible.

Add the juice of half a lemon, syrup and Benromach.

Add ice to the tin and shake, and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with leftover clementine segments.

Best Laid Drams

(Created by Orchid, Aberdeen – SLTN Cocktail Bar of the Year 2017)


30ml Craigellachie 13
20ml Luxardo Marschino
25ml merlot reduction
25ml fig syrup
15ml lemon Juice


Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice for 10 seconds, then double strain into a snifter glass.

Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.

For the merlot reduction, pour 750ml into a pan and reduce until only 375ml of the liquid remains. Bottle and store in the fridge. This has a shelf life of five days.

For the fig syrup:

1500g sugar
750ml water
12 figs
10g salt


Add water and sugar to a pan, apply heat and stir until dissolved. Cut the 12 figs in half, and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to macerate further for 24 hours. Strain, bottle and store in the fridge. This has a shelf life of two to three weeks.

Dram O’ Shanter

(Created by Georgi Radev, Mahiki London) 


50ml Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish (infused with white mulberries)
15ml Drambuie
15ml Re’al Ginger
15ml lemon juice
10ml port
1egg white


Put all the ingredients, but the port in the glass and dry shake without ice. Add ice cubes and shake again. Fine strain over cubed ice in rocks glass. Garnish with lemon zest, ginger flakes and white mulberries. Float the port on the top.

To infuse the whisky, add 150gms of dry white mulberries and leave for 24 hours. Remove the mulberries and use as a garnish.

Freedom an' Whisky Gang Thegither

(Created by The Dowans Hotel, Aberlour, Speyside)



50ml Glenlivet Founder's Reserve
12.5ml King's Ginger
12.5ml homemade spiced syrup

5 drops of orange bitters

Squeeze of fresh orange


Place all the ingredients in a shaker and shake together. Pour into a rock glass and garnish with fresh cinnamon and orange rind.

For the spiced syrup, use sugar syrup reduced down with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and orange peel.


• For further information and tickets visit www.spiritofspeyside.com. The Festival is also active on social media: facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #dram18

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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