I've come to discover the beauty of Torino over the course of four separate visits. Other than the charm of its Parisian-style streets and majestic buildings, it's a strategic home base for exploring the Monferrato and Langhe wine regions. Torino is famous for being the birthplace of Vermouth (Carpano, Cinzano and Martini). Its tradition of making fine vermouths and liqueurs has surely inspired its many important cocktail bars such as Smile Tree, Mad Dog, and Bar Cavour. It's home to some of the best bartenders in Italy, namely Dennis Zoppi, Mirko Turconi, Walter Gosso, Luana Bosello and rising star Alice Dosio. Below I present my favorite drinking and eating experiences in Turin and the nearby wine country (Langhe, Monferrato).
Thanks to Memfi, Marco C, Silvia, Irene, Luana and Michael C for the great advice on where to go in Turin.
Places still to try: Mad Dog, KM5, Inside, Lobelix, Closer, Sa Corte Noa, Ristorante Consorzio, Il Giglio, Affini, Botz.
Best cocktails in turin
1. Piano 35. Mirko Turconi is a legend in the bartending community. He gained fame through his successes in cocktail competitions, which prompted Flavio to recruit Mirko and bring him to Milano a couple years ago to work at MaG and BackDoor43. Mirko and I share similar tastes and in the many drinks he's made for me, he's always blown me away. His drinks are often rich and complex, thanks to his use of ingredients like vermouth, barolo chinato, Pedro Ximénez, scotch whisky and coffee beans. Several months ago, Mirko made the move back to Turin to open Piano 35 lounge bar, located on the 35th floor of the Intesa San Paolo skyscraper. On a nice day, the lounge bar offers stunning vistas of the city. But instead of gazing at the Torinese skyline, my attention was drawn towards Mirko behind the bar, who skillfully prepared two meditation worthy cocktails.
Smoked Flower features Scotch whisky mix, Vermouth Dopo Teatro Cocchi, Sherry Pedro Ximenez, flower liqueur, Bittermens Burlesque bitters, and a tobacco smoked cherry. This drink is so good you may cry.
The Blue is Fashion with Johnnie Walker Gold and Blue label blend, palm surgar, thyme and orange liqueur, Vermouth chinato infused with coffee, vanilla bitters, sugar. This savory cocktail will have you begging Mirko to make you another one.
Respect to the entire staff at Piano 35 for the warm welcome and friendly service. In particular I'd like to thank the charming Alessia for her welcoming smile at the door, and Samuel, the capable right-hand man of Mirko behind the bar.
2. Bar Cavour is located next to the elegant Del Cambio restaurant in Piazza Carignano. I was lucky to have Luana Bosello bartending on the night I visited. Winner of the prestigious Campari competition, Luana made me two perfect cocktails. First, I asked her for an afterdinner drink with a whisky base. Although she has never made a cocktail for me, she was able to perfectly read my mind - she made one of the best whisky sours of my life with Talisker 10 year, lime, sugar and egg white with orange essential oils. Smokey and sour, refreshing but complex - this cocktail instantly put on a smile on my face. Next up, a classic Manhattan that was perfectly balanced. Bar Cavour itself is an elegant cocktail bar, that is reminiscent of a nice hotel bar. Although you will pay a slightly higher price at Bar Cavour compared to other bars, for the charming and welcoming atmosphere and well-made drinks it's definitely worth the price. Next time I look forward to trying their food, which many claim is outstanding.
3. Barz8. This hole in the wall/dive bar was the most pleasant surprise on my last trip to Turin. Offering quality spirits with tailormade cocktails, Barz8 is a great bartender's bar. The atmosphere is nothing special, and that's by design at Barz8, where the cocktails are the protagonists.
Next time I will be sure to take a photo! :/
4. La Drogheria. Although I only stopped by for 20 minutes before catching a 7pm train, I was really impressed with La Drogheria, the best watering hole in Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Although it was a little early, I had a great "after dinner" cocktail called Lunga vita with Courvoisier cognac, Vermouth del Professore, whiskey barrel aged bitters, and banane du brasil. The atmosphere in Drogheria is beautiful and features several different rooms, each with its own style.
The staff (Jappy Luchis, Paul Canetti, Claudia Corotto, Federica Campigotto) is awesome at Drogheria and are likely my favorite bar team in the city. Although I didn't meet Jappy at Drogheria, I had the pleasure of trying his drinks in Milano at the Jameson Bartender's ball competition.
5. Smile Tree is located in the beautiful Piazza della Consolata, and was originally launched and made famous by the legendary Dennis Zoppi. Although Dennis has moved on to new projects, you can still enjoy amazing cocktails at Smile Tree thanks to the talented barlady Alice Dosio. On my last visit, Alice made me a cocktail worthy of my cocktail passport, the "Jordan" with Ardbeg Ten, Vermouth Dry Cinzano 1757 and Karkadè (Hibiscus tea) syrup.
Best food in Turin
1. Scannabue. My favorite restaurant in Turin thanks their amazing Piedmont specialties such as tajarin al ragù, tartare and a great selection of local cheeses. Scannabue also offers great Piedmont wines (Barbaresco, Barolo, Nebbiolo) by the glass. An absolute must visit.
2. Da Cianci - Piola caffè is a favorite of students thanks to its amazing quality/price ratio. Make sure to try the tajarin al ragù or ravioli with butter and sage. To build a perfect base for after dinner cocktail adventures, order the cheese plate featuring some of Piedmont's finest cheeses. Amazingly, you will only pay about €20 for a full dinner here.
3. Granbar Torino. Thanks to Memfi for bringing me to this cool restaurant/bar featuring a mix of italian food and sushi. Although I wasn't brave enough to try the sushi, the pasta dishes and roast beef were excellent. Despite the frantic business lunch period, the waitresses were friendly and engaging with the customers.
4. Neko cat cafè is a cozy cafè filled with cats. Obviously if you don't like cats, this is not the place for you. Not surprisingly, the cafè was frequented mainly by girls, who were enjoying a tea or a late lunch while trying to take Instagram pics of the various cats roaming around the premises. You may be slightly distracted as a cut jumps onto your table, but it adds to the excitement of the experience. I opted for a lunch featuring excellent tagliatelle with mushrooms in a cream sauce.
Best coffee in turin
1. Orso Laboratario del Caffè. From Chemex to siphon to espresso, from Colombia to Indonesia to Ethiopia, Orso has you got you covered for great specialty coffee. The most impressive part of the cafe is that the staff goes out of their way to educate their customers. They explain the subtleties of each blend or single origin roast, describing the different aromas and tastes that the clients can expect on their palate. Roasting is down in house to ensure the best possible experience.