Have you tried Lillet Blanc, the French wine-based apertif? It is a main component of the Vesper Martini (3 ounces gin, 1 ounce vodka, 1/2 ounce Lillet with a twist of lemon) made famous in 1953’s Casino Royale where it was shaken, not stirred, of course. Less boozy, my go-to spring cocktail is well-chilled Lillet Blanc stirred with a splash of French Curaçao and an orange twist. You could also simply pour it over ice or make a delightful champagne cocktail, with two parts Champagne to one part Lillet. Here, however, it serves as a spiced and citrusy poaching liquid for vanilla bean-flecked pears. I created this as a light, make-ahead dessert to be served over vanilla ice cream, but you could also spoon it onto a thick slice of pound cake.
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