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| Booze |

Gaetano's pours on the cello -- and gives customers an opportunity to make their own

For years, Gaetano's, the iconic neighborhood Italian joint at 3760 Tejon Street, has billed itself as "Italian to die for." And now it's pouring cello, the potent Italian liquid that infuses fruit with vodka and packs the kind of lethal punch that knocks you on your ass in no time flat.

But while most restaurants and bars only pour lime, orange or limoncello, Gaetano's bar manager, Diane Schwender, is house-infusing more than twenty cellos -- and they're not all citrus-based. She's trotting out bacon cello, blueberry cello, artichoke cello, pistachio cello and mint cello, right alongside almond, apple, mango, coffee and cinnamon. "We wanted to do twists on the classic Italian digestive, and it started out purely experimental, but now I'm going crazy with it," says Schwender. "This is an old restaurant, and we have some fantastic classic cocktails, but we also wanted to do some new and exciting things with our beverage program, and so far, people are really excited about it."

The staff -- everyone from line cooks to servers -- are in on the action, too, infusing cellos of their own in the restaurant's basement, but Schwender is also encouraging customers to come in with their own ideas to make cello. We'll give you a big jar and the Everclear, let you can infuse it with whatever you want, and then we'll sell it," she says.

The other night when I was bellied up to the bar at Gaetano's, I tried a flight of cellos, available for $7, that included the bacon, the blueberry spiked with simple syrup and the pistachio, which was earthy, but hard-core. And then I fell over.

If you want to try your hand at infusing your own cellos, call Schwender at 303-455-9852, or just stop by the bar with your next Big Idea.

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