Bella Bambini, “beautiful babies,” was a nickname Brittany Breen got about 10 years ago when she was touring Italy with her grandfather, Jim Breen. The woman who called her that may have been grammatically incorrect, but she was charming.
So when they decided to take his homemade limoncello commercial, the first letters in both Ms. Breen’s real name and nickname sealed the BB in the logo for their new craft liquor boutique, Bella Bambini Cello.
The place opened Sept. 16 in a storefront on the main drag of Fifth Avenue in their hometown of Coraopolis, serving tastes and selling bottles of limoncello, orangecello and liqueurs like that flavored with blueberry and pineapple.
They make the infusions with citrus zest or fruit, which they soak in grain alcohol for 30 days, then strain and sweeten with simple syrup and cut with purified water to 32.5 percent alcohol by volume.
Ms. Breen’s friend and business partner, Mike Quinlan, credits Kim Laughlin of McLaughlin Distillery in Sewickley Hills with helping them figure out many of the more technical ins and outs of operating an alcohol-based business. “We would not exist if it were not for Kim.”
They’re only doing free tastings and sales of bottles — for $30 for 750 milliliters. Their products also are to be available soon at Pennsylvania Libations in the Strip District, and they may open another satellite location themselves. In the meantime, they’re starting to get picked up by other bars and restaurants.
Ms. Breen, 30, is keeping her job as a bartender at Primanti Bros. in Robinson, where she’s worked for more than a decade. Mr. Quinlan, 38, works in investment and wealth management. Mrs. Breen’s “Pap” is 76 and retired from the steel industry, and started making limoncello at home about a year ago.
The Breens’ background is mostly Irish, but he fell in love with Italian culture over the course of several visits there. After another packed Saturday at the new place, his granddaughter was over the moon. “I was so happy — I think we all were — with how great everything turned out,” she says. “We just could not be more happy.”
They’re still tweaking the proof on some of their first four flavors, and plan to add others seasonally, Mr. Quinlan says. “We’re working on a coffee one now, and Brittany wants to do a cherry one,” possibly for winter holidays. Mr. Breen, who is surprised at how popular the pineapple is (“flying off the shelves”), wants to do a strawberry. This weekend, Ms. Breen was working up some cello cocktail recipes to share with customers and retailers.
“Right now,” said her grandfather, “we’re taking baby steps until we get it built up.”
Hours, for starters, are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tues.-Weds., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thurs.-Fri. and noon to 7 p.m. Sat. The place is located at 1042 5th Ave., Coraopolis, Pa., 15108 (very near Cobblehaus Brewing Co. at 1021 5th Ave. and Anchor & Anvil Coffee Bar at 1032 5th Ave.). For more information, find it on Facebook or at www.bbcello.com.
Speaking of Coraopolis, a brand-new brewery there is just now getting its beer out to area bars and restaurants. The first place to have 180 and Tapped beer on tap is the Beerhive in the Strip District, which has the Quittin' Time Cream Ale. The brewery, which doesn’t have its own taproom, also just delivered beers to the Industry Public Houses (Lawrenceville, North Fayette) and was aiming next for Fire Side Public House in East Liberty. Its other first beers are Average Joe’s Amber Ale, Hard Working Blonde and Overtime Irish Ale. Watch this space for more as production and distribution ramp up.
Interesting events this weekend include the Ok-TEA-Beerfest, celebrating beer brewed with tea, from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Millvale VFW Post 118. Tupelo Honey Teas collaborated with Three Rivers Underground Brewers (T.R.U.B.), Three Rivers Association of Serious Homebrewers (T.R.A.S.H.) and A Few Bad Apples Cider Collective to make the drinks for this Oktoberfest. Tickets to sample them all are $15; you can buy additional Draai Laag beers and food. Get tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3043453.
Also doing its first Oktoberfest is the new 11th Hour Brewing Co. in Lawrenceville, which will serve up its Bayernhof Marzen, South Side pretzels and German music Thursday through Oct. 8.
The Downtown Indiana, Pa., Oktoberfest Saturday (2 to 6 p.m., $35 to $60) includes more than 20 regional breweries: www.downtownindiana.org/oktoberfest.
Also Saturday, from 5 to 9 p.m., is the second Brew & Food Fest in West Newton, Westmoreland County, featuring beers from Bloom Brew (www.facebook.com/events/325733344519739).
Bob Batz Jr.: email@example.com, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.