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Top 10 Cookbook And Drink Gift Pairings: The Hard Alcohol Edition

Saffron Makes So Many Things Better. Much Better.

J. GarbeeSaffron Makes So Many Things Better. Much Better.

Those crazy low Amazon prices are great if you're buying a new cookbook for yourself, but they quickly deflate that $50 $32 Noma perceived gift value. What better to pair with a cookbook than something to drink? Because those "blueberries surrounded by their natural environment" in René Redzepi's new cookbook are going to take a long time to make. Which is precisely why your friends will appreciate the Scandinavian aquavit you hand over along with that cookbook. Stove-side sips to fill the time.

Turn the page for the rest of our Top Ten 2010 Cookbook and Drink Pairings, The Hard Alcohol Edition.

Windowsill Essentials

J. GarbeeWindowsill Essentials

9. Kansha + Yamazaki Single Malt 12 year Whisky:

Because any cookbook by Elizabeth Andoh deserves a long, thoughtful look. Her latest, Kansha, is an elegant spread of vegan and vegetarian Japanese dishes, as narrated in her characteristic cultural history discovery tone (Andoh was born in New York but has lived in Japan for more than forty years). All you need with that creamy sesame pudding is a glass of fine Japanese (yes, Japanese) Yamazaki whisky.

Dessert And Digestif

J. GarbeeDessert And Digestif

8. Dulce + Milagro Añejo:

Anejo tequilas, like many Mexican pastries, are misunderstood souls (they're not all canned condensed milk and double-shot sort of ingestibles). Dulce by pastry chef Joseluis Flores takes that tres leches cake and flavors it with coffee, then tops it with a chocolate-kirsch sauce. The sort of thing we'd pair with $40 Milagro añejo , a real value for such a smooth sipper.

7. Southern Pies + Vermont Sapling Liqueur:

Because baking a peanut butter cream pie with chocolate crust from this new pie cookbook and serving it with really good maple syrup-based liqueur is a much more useful, and fun, nod to North/South history than Civil War reenactments. Trust us. The green tomato pie recipe (a dessert version seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg) in the book? Well, we're going to leave that one up to you.

6. At Home With Madhjur Jaffrey + Sub Rosa Saffron Vodka:

Sometimes, you get so excited you spill your last few threads of saffron, as we did when flipping through Madhjur Jaffrey's latest book. These are good moments to have Sub Rosa's saffron vodka, a food-friendly and complex saffron and spice-infused vodka, on hand.

Gin and

J. GarbeeGin and

5. Drinkology + Oxley gin:

In the gin game, there so many cards to play. Dry, herbal, earthy, or like Oxley, almost citrusy and floral (the dry English gin is actually cold distilled -- unusual, and in the same realm as the difference between the flavor of cooked tomatoes versus fresh). The updated 2010 edition of Drinkology is a go-to guidebook to keep alongside the bar when you need a little inspiration.

4. Salted + Corzo Añejo:

Flipping through the stellar new Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral With Recipes, we are reminded that the world is made up of so much more than fleur de se. You could buy a bottle of $15 tequila to gift along with the book, but you get the sense author Mark Bitterman would consider that a margarita sacrilege on par with using kosher salt ("a battery-operated puppy with no hair, trying to comfort you with its soulless antics"). After all, you're handing over a book written by a man who uses sel gris, three full cups of the pricey French salt, in his preserved lemons recipe. An añejo like this slickly packaged number from Corzo seems like a better idea (is it just us, or does 2010 feel like the year of the añejo?). Plus it comes in a wallet friendly half bottle.

3. The Wicca Cookbook + Fernet-Branca Liqueur:

What exactly is in this elusive licorice-tinged Italian digestif? A half dozen toads, two chicken feet, one bat's ear, three hairs of a princess -- who knows. Like the Wicca Cookbook re-release, the spirit is oddly mesmerizing.

Bedtime Reading

J. GarbeeBedtime Reading

2. Absinthe + Vieux Carré Absinthe:

Our favorite absinthe book of 2010 necessitates a bottle of absinthe. Something elegant, and definitely not florescent green, like this Vieux Carré. At $60, it's actually a reasonable price for the quality in the high-end absinthe game.

1. Tartine + Dry Fly Vodka:

Bad bread is a lot like flavorless vodka. Useless, unless used as a means to an end -- disguised under cream and sugar in bread pudding, simply a vessel for alcohol in a Bloody Mary. But there are great baking books, like Tartine, and great vodkas, like Dry Fly made from local grains by a small Washington distillery. One reviewer said the vodka tasted of "sweetened breakfast cereal, faint vanilla, rose garden and egg cream" with a "flirtatiously elusive bouquet, fat creamy entry." We have no clue what that means, but like the water in that San Francisco sourdough, surely it has something to do with the Washington wheat.