Lost treasure: Get 31 Liqueur
As you might have heard me mention once or twice in the last while, I’m going to be running a marathon in T-6 days and counting. I drop this reference not to impress you, because this is the internet: I could claim to be fighting rocket-powered Dalmatians with my own army of battle bears, and it’s not like you could check my facts on me. It’s possible that I may choose, assuming that I survive the experience (the marathon, not the fight), to share a picture of me crossing the finish line; however, it’s equally likely that by Sunday night I will look as though I lost a life-and-death contest with spotted nuclear carriage dogs, so you just never know.
But indeed, if there is any kind of proof you might believe that I really am volunteering my body to run twenty-six miles — continuously in a single morning, rather than spaced out over the course of a week, month, year or lifetime the way a sane person might — it should be that for the entire week leading up to the race, I’m going dry.
Let’s take a moment for that to sink in. You may have imagined my voice, smooth and enchanting like a Canadian Sean Connery, making that last statement with calm sanity and distinguished reserve. Or, you may have guessed correctly and assumed I sounded something like this:
Which, let’s face it, isn’t as much of an exaggeration. Though my skin isn’t as good, and Tina rarely wears hats. Otherwise, 100% authentic.
The reasoning behind my departure from sweet, sweet booze for an entire week can be broken down as follows:
- Drinking before a big race is always spectacularly ill-advised, particularly considering that…
- …I have a remarkable habit of developing savage multi-day headaches if I go even a little over the line…
- …and frankly I could stand to lose a little booze weight heading into race day…
- …plus if I’m going to put myself through a 26-mile race, I might as well have a seriously delicious incentive waiting for me at the end.
They say one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated during a long run is to break down the distance, attack the course in digestible pieces, and above all to give yourself a goal to strive towards. And sure, while the sense of accomplishment that comes with performing a challenging act of physical endurance might have some value, I don’t mind spurring myself along with the thought that on the other side of that finish line is a cold cocktail made specifically for me.
But until that moment of celebration, I’m forced to resort on my recollection of happier times, when all I needed to earn a drink was “complete my working day”, or “survive another week”, or perhaps “walk around the majority of France.” Because if there’s one kind of drink I miss more than the ones I deny myself, it’s the ones that are denied of me by cruel twists of manufacturing, international law or raw geographical distance.
Such is the case with Get, a liqueur that Tina and I encountered a number of times on our journeys this past spring. We saw it at the bottom of almost every menu we read, down there with the delicious cognacs and digestifs, obscure and entirely unknown to us. It was sort of a peculiar anomaly, our familiar verb listed as a noun with one of two numbers next to it — either a 27 or a 31. A ritual developed between the two of us, where it was almost a race to see which of us would finally bring it up first.
“…so, what do you think this Get stuff is?”
“I don’t know! I want to know, but not enough to risk the 6 Euro to find out.”
“Especially when that can get us a round of Kir, or six cans of beer from the gas station.”
“Mike, we can’t always shop for dinner at the gas station.”
“But they sell brie at their service stops here! They sell better food next to their motor oil than I can find for lunch back home!”
“Well, maybe they’ll sell Get there, too. We should look.”
“Oh! Good idea — remind me not to forget you to remind me about that.”
And then we would order dessert, consume more calories than our livers could reasonably process in a twenty-four hour period, promptly forget all about Get until the next dinner… and the process would begin all over again. Until, finally, our last day in Paris came along.
Just across the street from our hotel was a lovely cafe, one that we’d walked past a dozen or more times in our journeys around the city. There was no particular reason that we chose to give it a miss, except for perhaps the fact that it was too close to where we were staying — it’s like it didn’t meet the requisite amount of exploration to properly discover it, so it didn’t merit our attention. Three or four times we must have said we should try it, only to find ourselves getting on the metro and eating halfway across Paris.
That’s just how we rolled. We could eat conveniently when we got home; in Europe, by God, we would travel for everything.
But on our final evening, we wanted to take it easy and just lay back. We’d spent the afternoon on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower, picnicking in the warm sun and watching some American tourists try to out-Paris the entirely disinterested Parisians. With our flight laying ahead of us in the wee hours of the morning, we simply wanted to relax, splurge a little on a great meal, and feel chubby for one more night — so we returned to the cafe across the street, and we settled in: Tina had gigantic shrimp creatures that looked as though they were large enough to fend off the deep-sea creatures of pre-history; I had a steak that was drenched in the sauce made from the liver of a totally different creature, just to ensure I was eating as much of the animal kingdom as I could in one meal.
And, just before we slipped into a food coma, Tina remembered to remind me not to forget to prompt her.
“Hey,” I said, “You want to find out what that Get stuff is?”
“Oh!” she answered. “Oh yes!”
“Great! Here comes the waiter, ask him.”
After taking the time to wither me under her stare, Tina went ahead and ordered it. In the process we learned some exciting, alluring facts:
- Asking for “Get” will confuse everyone and possibly embarrass you, because it’s pronounced “Jet.” Once that adjustment is made, things proceed merrily.
- Get 27 and Get 31 are two different flavors of the same type of liqueur, depending on alcohol content and flavor intensity.
- The intense flavor in question is mint, which is why Get 27 is as green as a bottle of Scope, while Get 31 is clear.
- Get is a digestif, meant to be sipped slowly after a meal. Our waiter made a comically exaggerated shape with his hands around his stomach, and said, “After you drink this, that feeling will go away and leave you. Very, very good for the digestion.”
- French waiters selling you after-dinner liquor ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.
Because we are tacticians about this kind of thing, I decided to do my splurging on a glass of cognac, while Tina took the experimental route and ordered the Get 31. I tried not to look at the little number next to the menu, because it was the end of our trip and I was treating myself; Tina didn’t pay much attention, because all I could hear was her purring from the other side of the table.
“Oh,” she said. “I like this! I like this quite a bit.”
“Want some of my cognac, and I can try that?” I offered.
“… I’m… I’m not sure,” she said, and that’s how I knew we were onto something. One cannot offer Tina an aged liquor without expecting to lose at least a small portion of it forever, so for this kind of exchange to meet with resistance was significant. When finally I finagled a sip, I could see why: Get 31 comes on with a strong but entirely even hit of mint, warming and cooling simultaneously, pleasantly strong without being obviously alcoholic. It went down with incredible smoothness, and spurred not even a flinch to adjust to the flavor or the strength.
Most impressively, it actually delivered as a digestive. I’ve had my share of whiskeys, brandies and cognacs that are meant to aid in one’s processes, but I always thought it largely to be a matter of distraction — if you’re gently sipping an extravagant liquor, then either its flavor or its heft will do its best to draw your attention away from the inch-thick steak you just ate. This is the first time that I actually felt like the drink helped to lighten the load, if that makes any sense.
We both left the restaurant happy, well-fed and a little bit sad that our journey was coming to an end. But for the rest of that evening and much of the following day, we kept finding ourselves talking about the Get and what a fun discovery it was. We couldn’t wait to find it back home, we said; it was going to earn a permanent place in our liquor cabinet, we promised. No need to buy any at the airport! Why lug it home and risk soaking our clothes in minty-fresh alcohol? Anything this good will surely be freely available for purchase!
…and of course, it isn’t. So obscure is Get on this side of the Atlantic that to describe it is to receive sad, perplexed looks from liquor store employees, who will charitably point us to the peppermint schnapps if only to stop us talking. The more we attempt to convince them that it just isn’t the same, the more deranged we seem to be, passionately advocating a mint liqueur as a delicious sipping beverage.
And yet it is, and if only someone would sell it to us then we could just prove it to everyone, one drink at a time. Oh, and the cocktails we could make, the lovely frozen drinks or smooth holiday martinis, or even just the straight ounces served in chilled aperitif glasses… it hardly seems fair that we offer such a good home, and yet there’s no Get out there to adopt.
So here’s to a drink I will yearn for long after my twenty-six miles are done, and whose absence only makes my appetite for it fonder.
Get 31, you are truly one of our lost treasures.