Way back when the Thompson Hotel closed down, I was devastated. I had loved the rooftop with its sweeping views of the city. When news broke that a new hotel was coming in to scoop up the property, we all wondered if it would do the space at Wellington and Bathurst justice. Opened in 2021, 1 Hotel Toronto more than delivered. Its focus on sustainability and unique-to-Toronto design touches instantly won our hearts. And when Harriet's Rooftop opened later that year, I fell in love all over again.
It's safe to say, I love Harriet's Rooftop even more than its predecessor, and it's quickly become one of my favourite and one of the best spots in the city. It's an amazing cocktail bar and a great sushi spot.
On a Thursday evening, we visit Harriet's Rooftop to taste-test their new winter cocktails along with Japanese-inspired bites.
Harriet's Rooftop: The vibe
We arrive at Harriet's Rooftop at 7:30 p.m. and the restaurant is almost empty, save for a couple of other tables. The city is already blanketed in the darkness of winter, but that just makes the twinkling skyscrapers shine even brighter. The CN Tower peeks at us from behind the buildings. Overhead, string lights glow while heaters blast warmth into the glass-enclosed rooftop patio. As someone who is usually cold, I'm happy to find that I'm warm enough, even in my slightly risqué outfit that befits the atmosphere.
Not everyone is dressed to the nines, but they're all stylish. As the night goes on, more tables fill up with canoodling couples and friends out for a special night. By 10 p.m. almost every table is full and the DJ is playing vibey remixes of club songs that make you want to sway in your seat, while still being mellow enough for dinner. Everyone in the diverse crowd seems to be basking in the glamorous, yet comfortable atmosphere. Elegant and unpretentious, Harriet's Rooftop feels like the best side of Toronto.
Harriet's Rooftop: The cocktails
All around the $20 price point, the cocktails at Harriet's Rooftop are on the pricier side, but every one that we try is delicious. The complex, layered flavours indicate that a lot of thought and care has been put into this cocktail program. I start with the Chai Cloud, a cozy, foamy cocktail that can only be described as winter in a glass. Chai-infused Bearface Whisky, nutmeg, lemon and egg white come together for a sour-style cocktail with a warm, round flavour.
In the Orchard Promenade, caramel apple butter syrup takes the edge off of an otherwise booze-forward cocktail made with Rémy Signature Cognac, and vanilla and fig bitters. The syrup is made with the leftover apples from a stand of fruit that's complimentary for hotel guests. Much of 1 Hotel Toronto's operations are rooted in sustainability.
We also try some of the signature cocktails at Harriet's Rooftop. The Blushing Geisha is light, fresh and floral. It has a beautiful flavour, but isn't overly sweet or overpowering — it's a refreshing, perfect pair with the spicy, flavourful bites that we're snacking on. We're told that the Sunset in The 6ix, an ode to the spectacular sunsets visible at Harriet's Rooftop, is a summer cocktail but it's so good they couldn't take it off the menu. On the first sip, I can't get enough. The mixture of Teremana Tequila, Amaro Montenegro, Select Aperitivo, pineapple juice and lime is a sublime balance of tart, boozy and sweet.
Harriet's Rooftop: The food menu
The menu prices might have you double-checking your bank balance, but Harriet's Rooftop isn't really the place to stuff yourself with a full meal. It's a sultry spot to grab a cocktail and coyly snack on a couple of light bites without getting too full for... erm, post-dinner activities.
We start by slurping back oysters, natch, which I generously douse in ponzu sauce. The truffle scallop maki roll is pleasantly spicy. The truffle isn't easily recognizable in the medley of flavours, but the roll is delicious and the scallop pieces are juicy. When the chicken karaage sliders arrive, they're bigger than expected. The two sandwiches are only slightly smaller than some other full-size fried chicken sandwiches I've had. Hanging over the pillowy, mini brioche bun, the pieces of chicken are super crunchy on the outside and glisteningly juicy on the inside.
The star of the night is the A5 wagyu tataki. The tender pieces of seared beef are served over a bed of pear slaw swimming in apple ponzu sauce and topped with crispy pieces of garlic. We gobble up every last bite and practically lick the plate clean, savouring each bite as the beef melts on our tongues. The posh atmosphere (and possibly our chopstick skills) is the only thing that makes us pause between bites, and fight our animalistic desire to devour everything in minutes.
Despite the small plates, we leave feeling full, happy and drunk on the beautiful atmosphere — and perhaps the cocktails too.
Dinner and drinks for two: Around $150 before taxes and gratuities.