Have you ever wondered how a whole pear could fit through the tiny neck of a liqueur bottle? The Branas, a Basque family, figured out how to do it. One of the celebrated Basque liqueurs, Poire Williams, is made from the Williams pear (known as the Bartlett pear in the United States and Canada). Among the very best producers of Poire Williams is the Brana family based in Pays Basque near Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, an area which is famous for its fruit-based digestifs. Forty years ago Etienne, the third generation of the Brana family of wine merchants, created a liqueur from the renowned poires William grown in his own orchard. Today connoisseurs consider Poire Brana the best in the world—AND they produce bottles that contain whole pears inside. The mystery is how do they do it? Here’s the solution to the mystery. The pear actually grows inside the bottle. Producers stick bottles over budding pear tree branches and secure them with wires and gardener’s tape. They wait for the buds to grow into pears inside the glass. Air is periodically pumped into the bottle so the fruit doesn’t rot and some producers even cut the other pears off the branch so the one pear gets as much nutrition as possible. When the pears are mature and ripe they remove the bottles from the tree, with the pears still inside them, and meticulously clean the inside glass by hand with special brushes. Then the pears are pricked slightly to let the juice out before filling the bottles with eau de vie. Tending to the pears in bottles is a labor-intensive process. Common problems are the bottles breaking, the wind knocking them down, or too much rain getting inside and rotting the fruit. Many bottles are lost. But, the ones that survive are an extraordinary taste treat. The characters in my novel, “Murder on the Seine,” savor the delicious Poire Brana liqueur.