Friday Happy Hour: West Islayer

West Islayer (photo by author)

It’s time for Friday Happy Hour, highlighting a drink we’ve recently enjoyed, every Friday at 4pm! Please share your favorites as well.

One of my besties, Heidi, wanted celebrate her birthday with a low-key, grown-up sort of celebration in which a group of us went out for a nice dinner and cocktails at a nicer sort of restaurant. Our group, though, is all vegetarians or vegans, so the choices for fancy spots can feel limited. She picked Rasika for the ample offerings of both veg fare and original cocktails.

Jason Stritch was behind the bar that night and we enjoyed a number of his creations. He told me he spends about thirty hours a week just prepping ingredients – creating his own syrups, growing herbs, and brewing his own cider (which was the best cider I have ever tasted – though I am not much of a cider fan). The first thing he whipped up for me was a Scotch-based cocktail called the “West Islayer.”

Scotch can be a challenging base for a cocktail – most Scotch-tails I have tasted leave me wishing I just ordered a tumbler of the stuff without mixers – but the campfire smokiness of a Laphroaig Scotch is so appealing this time of year that I gave the drink a chance. It won me over immediately.

To the smoky Laphroaig, the drink adds spiced honey and allspice dram. The sweetness and hint of spice add a wonderful walking-on-damp-leaves-in-autumn quality. Everyone who sampled my drink – and, with an aroma like the West Islayer has, everyone around wants to sample it – enjoyed it, be they regular Scotch drinkers or the person who claims they do not like to drink “anything brown.”

Brittany has tried to leave DC, it just never lasts. She has lived in Chicago, California, and China – but she always comes back home. Brittany is a drinks, nightlife, and style correspondent for We Love DC. Between columns, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or standing by the bar. Email her at brittany(at)

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