Cheers to Halifax's best whisky bars

The Celtic spirit is potent here in Halifax, especially in its distilled form. Few beverages can ease that raw waterfront chill from your bones quite as effectively or as pleasantly as a "wee dram" of whisky. Here are a few noteworthy places to further your acquaintance with this masterpiece of the distiller's art.

The Loose Cannon

1556 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2B3

The decor at this Argyle St. watering hole is solidly traditional, with plenty of wood, dark accents and comfortably dim lighting. The attraction here isn't the surroundings, but the glorious collection of – what else? – single malts. There are 70 on the list, ranging from Jura's peat-heavy Prophecy to Bruichladdich's unconventional and highly drinkable modern malts. If you're in the mood to compare and contrast, order a flight of four half-ounce pours from the pub's broad selection.

The Fireside

1500 Brunswick St, Halifax, NS B3J 3X9

The Fireside was uprooted from its former Brunswick St location in 2015, settling into new digs a stone's throw away at Birmingham St. and Artillery Place. The setting has changed, but not the relaxed vibe or comfortable seating near a fireplace. The menu boasts 16 single malts, from Auchentoshan in Scotland's south to Highland Park in its far north. If your significant other doesn't share your taste for malts, Martini Monday here is legendary.

Jamieson's Irish House & Grill

5 Cumberland Dr, Dartmouth, NS B2V 2T6

The exterior of Jamieson's Irish House – an unprepossessing strip mall location on Cumberland Road, just off Cole Harbour Drive – does little to hint at what awaits a whisky-lover at the bar. The menu lists more than 40 Scotch single malts, including less-common offerings, such as the 21-year old Poit Dhubh. Fittingly, you'll also find several Irish whiskies, including Jamieson's 1780, Black Bush and Connemara Peated Malt.

The Press Gang

5218 Prince St, Halifax, NS B3J 0B1

The Press Gang occupies one of the oldest buildings in Halifax, and it pours some of the oldest whiskies, too. Care for a 1971 Macallan, or perhaps the 1961 Glen Grant? This is where you'll find them, along with less-rarefied drams. In total, the list runs to more than 200 whiskies from around the world. That's a lot to navigate on your own, so make a point of coming in on Tuesdays between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., when the house whisky expert hosts a weekly tasting.

Durty Nelly's Irish Pub

Argyle, Halifax, NS B3J 3P8

Durty Nelly's is not your typical quasi-Irish pub. In their quest for authenticity, its owners had the entire interior designed and built in Ireland, then shipped to Halifax for reconstruction in its space on Argyle Street. The whiskey menu here isn't the largest in the city, but it's well-balanced. You'll find all of the Scotch regions represented here, and the less-common Irish whiskies – Kilbeggan, Redbreast, 2 Gingers, Teeling Single Grain – are worth seeking out.

The Middle Spoon

1559 Barrington St, Halifax, NS B3J 1Z7

Desserts and whisky have an undeniable affinity, with the spirit's fugitive sweet, spicy and floral notes bringing out unsuspected depths in your favourite sweet treats. Barrington Street's The Middle Spoon offers an ideal setting to indulge both your sweet tooth and your whisky-drinker's palate. Try the cardamom carrot cake with austere, spicy Highland Park; or follow the chocolate Brownie pie with sweet and full-bodied Glendronach.

Tom's Little Havana

5428 Doyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 4A8

The address is a bit misleading, because you enter Tom's through the Fireside Restaurant on Birmingham St. (the two establishments share their roof, kitchen and ownership). Fans of the old Doyle Street location will find the new Tom's cozy and old-fashioned. The list of whiskies here is relatively small and made up of old, familiar favourites such as Macallan, Glenfiddich and Highland Park, but that fits perfectly with the bar's retro charm. Drop in on Sundays and Mondays, which are designated "Scotch Nights" with reduced pricing.

Duffy's Steak & Seafood

1650 Bedford Row, Halifax, NS B3J 1T2

Duffy's is casually upscale in much the same way as a tailored suit. The dining room's clean lines and comfortable chairs aren't overdone, but still convey an assured and old-school elegance. That delicate balance of tradition and modernism marks both single malts and contemporary steakhouses, making them culinarily compatible. The list here is simple but adequate, with Nova Scotia's own Glen Breton rubbing shoulders with a dozen of its old-country cousins, such as Oban, Bowmore and Glenkinchie.

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