Daily Bite: Compass Distillers opens on Halifax’s Agricola Street

The nautical-inspired distillery offers moonshine, vodka, gin and rhumb.

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Compass Distillers, which opened this October, is the latest in the wave of new developments in food and drink along the ever-growing Agricola Street in Halifax’s North End. It has sprung up just steps away from restaurants like the Agricola St. Brasserie, Lion and Bright, EnVie and Water and Bone.

Owned by long-time friends Graham Collins, David LaGrand and Josh Judah, the distillery is housed in an ambitiously designed large tower. Architecturally, it’s a grand departure from the much-loved cycle repair shop, which stood on the site a year and a half ago, contained in a simple wood-clad two-storey box.

But this neighbourhood is changing in so many ways that no one seemed to complain about the odd-shaped castle as it went up. There was intrigue and excitement, yes. A nod and a hello to the construction and building crews that literally took over this stretch of the street for the better part of a year, certainly. But no complaints.

And no one is complaining either, when they step into the welcoming, brightly lit bar area; which this week, obtained its regular liquor license, so that it can serve wine as well as spirits.  

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The room echoes the nautical moniker of the distillery, the small space cleverly filled with rum barrels and bright polished wood that would make any deck mate proud, a compass star incorporated into the flooring design and finally, an enormous viewing window, like the horizon–except the view in here is not the sky, but gargantuan steampunk copper vats.

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And at the bar? The distillery already has four products, which are available for sale by the bottle or for tasting at $3 each, or $10 for a flight. They are moonshine, vodka, gin and rhumb. Yes, rhumb.

The distillers at Compass added a couple of letters to their spirit, to differentiate it from rum, which has to be aged at least one year. It’s also a play on a nautical term–a rhumb line is an imaginary navigation line that extends from any of the 32 points of a compass.

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Upstairs, the tower encloses a boutique motel available to rent via Airbnb: two bedrooms and a living area,with an ultra-cool patio, perfect for soaking in the North End Halifax vibe. Bookings start at $194 per night.

Time to chart your course for Halifax.