What’s in a name? A whole lot—and that’s the truth. Every time I’ve come to this chic cocktail bar nestled in a corner of Torino’s Quadrilatero, I leave with a smile plastered on my face. From the over-the-top drinks to the hearty apericena and the intimate atmosphere, Smile Tree is easily my favourite Torinese cocktail bar.
First brought to life 10 years ago by mixology extraordinaire Dennis Zoppi, Smile Tree is super particular, but in the best way possible. Open Tuesday until Sunday from 7pm till late, the team is constantly dreaming up ways to excite patrons and ensure that each visit delivers on offering an unforgettable (and totally unique) experience.
Experimenting with different ingredients, flavours and techniques, the talented mixologists can craft a cocktail guaranteed to fit everyone's needs—alcoholic or not. Sweet or bitter, fruity or floral, light or punchy, they’ve got all the bases covered.
I’d like to consider myself a seasoned Smile Tree pro, considering I’ve tried a whole bunch of bevvies. I’ve tasted the campari-heavy Un Americano a Savona, along with the ginger-beer based #SmileSpritz. I’ve sampled the floral Le vie en Rose, and taken a tropical vacation drinking a Cancùn. I’ve been experimental and given the Kondo Martini a try, and have kept things classy with a smokey Gentlemen’s Club. I may have also enjoyed a seasonal offering or two like the Smilin’ Pumpkin, crafted with pumpkin-infused rum, pumpkin purée, cinnamon simple syrup and walnut bitters.
With a menu that aims to transport you to another place and time by infusing global flavours into each sip, it’s definitely an experience to say the least. However, it’s really the presentation of these drinks that’s really the show stopper. I’ve brought family, friends and dates here and everyone is always impressed by the level of creativity and fabulous presentation.
Created as a visual and interactive art piece, most drinks are served with nitrous oxide for a cloud-like effect or smoking from under a glass cloche. Some cocktails are served in a wooden box, others on a bed of moss. I’ve had cocktails that have even been served in separate glasses, each sip offering a different flavour infusion.
In addition to the cocktail itself, you can also expect a tailored mix of munchies to accompany the drink, which can range from powdered sugar-dusted fruit, gianduiotti, plantain chips…you name it. All of which work to enhance the overall wow factor. Plus, if you come before 10 p.m., you’ll also be able to take advantage of their awesome apericena.
Like an aperitivo, apericena will often cost a bit more and tend to be a bit more abundant. Smile Tree’s version actually feels a bit like a dinner so that’s definitely a good thing if you’re planning to enjoy a few stiff drinks. Oh, and it’s totally veg! The fare is meat-free and always features an array of vegetarian goodies like tiny portions of pesto or tomato pasta, croquettes and empanadas, fresh salads and colourful crostini.
Though Smile Tree may only serve a handful of cocktails, they’re totally tantalizing. If you’re looking for a basic beer, Spritz or Gin & Tonic, then this probably isn’t the place to go. Young or old, if you’re on the hunt for something different, then definitely do check this place out.
I’d also like to note that given the effort put into crafting each beverage (and apericena), a slightly higher than usual price point can be expected, but that’s pretty understandable. This is very much a place to come and savour a cocktail and relax in the intimate ambiance.
For me, the best nights at Smile Tree are spent during the weekend evenings (make sure not to arrive too late!), spent in good company and enjoying the skill of a perfectly crafted cocktail, delicious sfizi and the beauty of an Italian evening out on the town.