A Guide to Hogmanay Food and Drink

In Scotland, Hogmanay is a time of celebration and feasting
In Scotland, Hogmanay is a time of celebration and feasting | © IAN GEORGESON / Alamy Stock Photo
Tori Chalmers

Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve, is one giant party – and the festivities wouldn’t be complete without a hefty serving of scran (food) accompanied by a wee dram of whisky. Along with the “cup o’ kindness” celebrated in Auld Lang Syne, these are the best Scottish food and drink to enjoy during Hogmanay.

Fireworks are an essential part of Hogmanay

Black bun

If you had to choose one dish that embodies Hogmanay, it would probably be black bun. It’s essentially a fruit cake with a Scottish twist, baked with raisins, currants, almonds, citrus peel, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. The icing on the cake is that it’s not icing at all – the whole thing is enveloped in a layer of pastry. Traditionally black bun was consumed on Twelfth Night, but nowadays this cake is ingrained into many Hogmanay rituals. Many first-footers (the first person to enter a household in the New Year) bring it as a symbolic gift when visiting a loved one’s home in the New Year, and it’s believed to bring good fortune for the year ahead. Dense and delicious, this cake is perfect paired with a good whisky.

Haggis

The trusty Scots staple and national dish, haggis is comprised of sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), filled with a mixture of oats, suet and spices. Add a sprinkling of salt and mix it with stock to create a surprisingly delectable dish. Grossly underestimated outside of the country, haggis is a popular New Year’s Eve dish as it is fundamentally Scottish.

Neeps and tatties

The perfect accompaniment to haggis, neeps (parsnips) and tatties (potato) complete the traditional Hogmanay meal. Mashed with a generous amount of butter until smooth and creamy, this is a nostalgic, well-beloved dish that’s an essential part of any Hogmanay shindig.

Haggis, neeps and tatties are seen as Scotland’s national dish

Cock-a-leekie soup

Cock-a-leekie soup is Scottish to the core. Leeks, peppered chicken stock, and a small amount of rice creates a thick, hearty soup that’s perfect for the cold winter evenings. Traditionalists may also add a handful of prunes to the recipe. A filling bowl of cock-a-leekie soup is the ideal party starter for those embarking on an old-school Hogmanay event.

Traditional cock-a-leekie soup is the perfect warming winter dish

Steak pie

An old-fashioned favourite, steak pie is a dish commonly found in many households across Hogmanay. It stands proudly in the window of any good local butchers – the better the butcher, the better the pie, with soft flaky pastry crusts smothering melt-in-the-mouth pieces of steak. There’s a strong demand for this hearty meal during the holiday season, as it’s the perfect option for feeding large quantities of people eager to party the evening away.

Shortbread

Buttery, crumbly and sprinkled with a touch of sugar, you’ll be offered a plate of shortbread everywhere you go between Christmas and the New Year. Pair it with a coffee or a whisky for a post-meal nibble if you can’t face a full dessert after your haggis. Shortbread also happens to be a fail-safe first-foot item.

Scottish shortbread is used as a traditional first-footer gift

Tipsy laird

Tipsy laird is a trifle with a Scottish flair – the flair being impressive amounts of whisky or Drambuie. A little softer than an English trifle, tipsy laird brims with booze, a delicious helping of custard, lots of fresh fruit and layers of fluffy whipped cream. It’s a decadent dessert, that more than lives up to its name – not one for the designated drivers.

Whisky

Like all Scottish celebrations, Hogmanay festivities are accompanied by plenty of whisky, or uisge beatha (water of life). After all, what’s a party without a wee dram? The perfect tipple to contemplate the past year and embrace the new, purists will argue it’s best appreciated mixed with a single droplet of water – no more, no less.

Cranachan

Simple yet ever-popular, cranachan is one of the most traditional Scottish desserts, making it perfect for ringing in the New Year. This delight is formed through a perfect union of whipped cream, toasted oatmeal soaked overnight, honey, raspberries and, of course, the mandatory dose of whisky. Although typically served in a tall dessert glass, those with an affinity for tradition will bring all the ingredients out for guests to assemble their own as they please.

Cranachan is a traditional, and delicious, Scottish dessert

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