Cocktails and Sushi at Andaz Tokyo

When you look out from the 52nd floor of the Andaz Tokyo hotel at the top of Toranomon Hills, your heart skips a beat. You can see the whole of Tokyo Bay, Ginza, the Rainbow Bridge, and glittering Odaiba, not to mention Tokyo Tower, which you quite literally look down on. Recently refurbished, the Rooftop Bar has an elegant yet comfortable sofa area with varying ceiling heights, stunning views from every table, and a classy, intimate bar area. On the same floor is also a high-end sushi bar. It is the perfect spot to start off the weekend in style with a very cosmopolitan vibe.

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Despite the elegant interior, the atmosphere at the hotel’s Rooftop Bar stays relaxed and cosy. Along with first-class service and a fresh breeze (parts of the bar are under semi-open skies) comes an outstanding drink menu with a huge variety of seasonal fruit and tea cocktails. One thing to note, however, is that there is a ¥2,000 cover charge for non-staying guests who choose terrace seats after 8 p.m.

The entire design of the 52nd floor is based around a Japanese garden, explains Warren Lindsay, mixologist and manager of the Rooftop Bar. The wedding chapel represents a Japanese shrine, and the bar, as a center of hospitality, stands for the teahouse. Perhaps more literal is the tranquil sushi counter that is nestled further into bar. Dubbed simply The Sushi, it sits only eight and resembles a dimly lit Japanese tea room, where master sushi chefs use the finest ingredients to prepare Japan’s national delicacy.

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Like many top sushi restaurants in Japan, the menu at The Sushi is not expansive, focusing on quality over quantity. But all the classics are available, including fatty tuna, sea urchin, salmon, and conger eel. A la carte prices start at ¥380, but for the full experience I recommend going for the omakase course (¥15,000 per person). This common Japanese term loosely translates to “chef’s choice,” and ensures you will get the best quality, freshest ingredients on offer that day. Just be sure to inform the chef of any allergies or aversions before he gets to work on preparing your meal.

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The theme of incorporating Japanese influences is carried through right down to the cocktail menu at the Rooftop Bar. “This is a place where Asian input marries European style,” Lindsay says while serving me the best gimlet (gin, lime, sugar) of my life. The secret to the cocktail, he explains, lies partly in the gin—he uses Blue Gin, made at a small distillery in Austria. There is also the method of preparation: the mix is given a “hard Japanese shake,” a style Lindsay picked up from a famous Ginza mixologist.

The cocktail menu changes every four to six weeks. When asked which are his signature cocktails, Lindsay points at the menu. “All of them,” he says. He invented each one with passion, and is currently in search of new combinations. This includes a lot of trial and error. “I was obsessed with the idea of mixing peach vinegar with plum jam, only to find out that it just didn’t work.”

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He likes thinking outside the box, which is why you won’t find many classics on the menu (but don’t worry—Lindsay and his team are happy to mix them up for you if you want). Every cocktail comes with a twist. However, the drinks all have one thing in common: a link to Japanese flavors, whether it’s a liquor like umeshu (plum wine) or amazake (sweet sake), or other ingredients such as yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) or shiso (a leaf with a mint-like flavor).

My favorite on the Rooftop Bar’s menu among the ones I have tried is Shiso Lovely (¥1,800), a refreshing floral cocktail with shiso-infused vodka, cucumber water, apple, jasmine syrup, and lemon. The vodka is infused on site, for six entire days. “It hits the feminine taste,” says Lindsay. “It’s low in calories, good for your skin, and has a summery feeling.” A drink that almost makes you think you’re pampering yourself with something healthy? Honestly, who would not go for that?

The Deets

Address: 1-23-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Tel: For reservations at The Sushi, please call 03-6830-7739.

Open: Rooftop Bar: Sun–Thu 5 p.m.–12 a.m.; Fri and Sat, 5 p.m.–1 a.m. The Sushi: daily, 5–10 p.m.

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