Were it not for the classy neon pink sign in the window of this renovated house on an otherwise silent stretch of Amherst Street, you might not figure out that one of Montreal’s hottest and most unique bar experiences awaited you within. But then again, you probably heard about it anyway – Agrikol, a Haitian rum bar & restaurant, was already highly anticipated long before it opened. The collaboration of Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne along with Toronto’s Jen Agg (of the Black Hoof & Rhum Corner) had the Montreal food scene buzzing since the announcement of the project last year.
Now it’s finally open and it’s easy to tell how much love and hard work went into it. A beautiful painting adorns the entirety of the wall along the staircase upstairs, created by Agg‘s husband Roland Jean. With many nooks, a full bar, and an upstairs mezzanine, it’s truly one of the city’s most unique restaurants. The music was tropical and I had no trouble imagining myself in a climate much warmer than our own (it was close to -20C the night I went).
There is a full food menu, and indeed to sit in many areas of the restaurant it is required to order food but I managed to grab a seat at the bar which is fully licensed. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try anything but look forward to on my next visit.
The cocktails split between the classics and the new school, I instead went for the two mainstays – Rhum & Coke, and Ti-Ponch. Although the garnishes are delicious they are basically just vehicles for the star, the Haitian rum Barbancourt. Highly refreshing, the Rhum & Coke has just a splash of Coca-Cola and instead gets brightened by freshly squeezed lime juice. The Ti-Ponch is great as well, with sugar cane syrup and a freshly cut piece of sugar cane to chew on. Both of these come in a “mini bottle service format” – sharing half a bottle of Barbancourt with friends would be a great night – Coca-Cola, slices of lime and a bucket of ice at the ready. Plans of a backyard patio are in the works and I can hardly wait.
In the dead of winter Agrikol was a respite from the bitter cold, but I look forward to taking a vacation in paradise again in the months to come.
1844 rue Amherst
Open Thursday to Monday 6pm-late
About Teg Graham
Teg sometimes cooks things in restaurants. He likes music, hockey, painting and reading Gael Green’s restaurant review archives.