Food & Drink

The Gift Guide for Southern Cooks

A baker’s dozen ideas for anyone who appreciates Southern food (and drink), from sauce pans and punch bowls to barbecue sauces and bacon

1. Seaside Grown Bloody Mary Mix

Many Bloody Mary mixes seem to disguise the fact that they’re made from tomatoes. Not Seaside Grown. The Sanders family, sixth-generation growers, bottle their nicely chunky mix—complete with seeds and bits of skin—just a couple of acres away from the Sea Island, South Carolina, fields where they raise the main ingredients. Their spicy version is hot enough to put hair on your chest, or burn it off if you accidentally spill some. $10,

2. Five Two Double-Sided Cutting Board

What kind of engineering could possibly go into something as simple as a cutting board? The folks at Food52 designed their new 18-by-13-inch solid maple board with input from the thousands of cooks in their online recipe community. It’s reversible, has an extra deep juice groove, and there’s even a slot where you can prop a phone to read recipes. $99,

3. Vintage Cookie Press

Any cook who loves traditional Southern cheese straws will treasure one of these vintage Swedish Sveico cookie presses. Like treasure, they’re hard to find. Shortly after we published a story about these presses earlier this year, a vintage Sveico sold for nearly $800. Get one before they’re gone—or before someone else drives the price up. Various prices,

Photo: Phillip Rhodes

A Sveico cookie press.

4. Heirloom Salt by J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works

Finishing salt is always welcome in the kitchen. J.Q. Dickinson’s is made in West Virginia using water from a brine aquifer—the remains of an ancient ocean. That isolation produces an exceptionally clean flavor. $9,

5. Flying Fox Vermouth

The Afton, Virginia, vintners at Flying Fox infuse a wine and brandy base with fruits, herbs, and other botanicals to match the four seasons. Use the strawberry-forward spring vermouth for delicate sweetness or fall for a more strident citrus presence. Winter, flavored with tart pomegranates, will be available the first week of December. $35,

6. Back in the Day Bakery Books

In a city with as much history as Savannah, it’s not easy to become an institution. Unless you’re Cheryl and Griffith Day, the couple behind Back in the Day Bakery, which went from local favorite to national phenomenon. Individually or together, the couple’s trio of recently released cookbooks are a sweet treat for budding bakers. $13 per; Sweets and Treats, Party CakesBaking for Breakfast;

7. Punch Bowl with Panache

The only thing that says “party” more than a punch bowl is a punch bowl that looks like a disco ball. Each one of these is handmade by Nashville artisan Emily Harrington, so while your order probably won’t be fulfilled in time for this New Year’s Eve, you’ll be the toast of 2019 if you commission one now. If you can’t wait that long, hit up ebay or Etsy for a great vintage model, like this handsome brass find or a sleek midcentury glass option similar to the one we used to photograph our Bloody Bull punch.

8. Blanc Creatives Saucier

The metalsmiths at Blanc Creatives in Charlottesville, Virginia, took top prize in G&G’s 2015 Made in the South Awards with their carbon steel skillet. Their new saucier makes an excellent companion—the pan delivers the same beautiful nonstick sear, but because of the two-inch-high lip, it also holds a sauce. Use it to braise or even fry, too. $345, 

9. A Southern Bacon Sampler

Fulfilling this gift will take a bit of doing, but it’s nothing a properly raised Southerner can’t handle. If you’re going to see the lucky recipient in person, choose a dozen from the fine cured-pork purveyors listed below, have the bacon shipped to your home, and store it all—and there may be a lot; some have minimum orders—in the freezer til the big day. Pop twelve individual packets into a cooler, wrap it, and you’re good to go. If you’re planning to ship the gift instead, place your first order in December, and then just set up a calendar reminder to place the next order from a different source at the end of January, another in February, and so on. Or, for anyone short on freezer space, just build a sampler six-pack; makers with an asterisk (*) sell and ship their bacon by the single packet.

Alabama: Bill-E’s Small Batch Bacon*

Georgia: White Oak Pastures*

Georgia: Pine Street Market*

North Carolina: Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork

Kentucky: Broadbent’s*

Kentucky: Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham*

Tennessee: Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams

Tennessee: Blackberry FarmShop*

Virginia: Edwards Virginia Smokehouse

Virginia: Milton’s Local

10. Condor Chocolates Honeycomb Toffee

Instead of the shard-like quality of traditional buttery toffee, Condor’s Honeycomb version is airy and light, thanks to its main ingredient—honey. The Athens, Georgia, confectioners envelop it in dark chocolate then hit it with a sprinkle of sea salt for sweet-savory contrast. $8,

11. Creole Cooking Staples

Need a hostess gift that’s: A) not a bottle of wine, and B) something you can still pick up at Publix? Camellia kidney beans are the official legume of New Orleans-style red beans and rice. Pair with Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning, a bottle of Crystal hot sauce, and a nice jar of organic bay leaves, and your host will have most of the makings for any number of other classic Louisiana dishes, too.

12. Lewis Barbecue Hot Sauce Set

For the ’cue curious: Charleston-by-way-of-Texas pit master John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue offers a boxed set of his three signature sauces. Two flavors will be familiar to any Southerner (peppery vinegar, sweet red). The third is a delicious departure: Bright, tangy roasted Hatch green chile sauce, made with the peppers Lewis learned to love as a boy in El Paso. $29,

13. G&G Club Gift Card

Let someone else do the cooking—us. Gift cards are available to the Garden & Gun Club at the Battery Atlanta, and they’re perfect for anyone in the ATL, who travels there frequently, attends Braves games regularly, or just loves good Southern food and drink.

Garden & Gun has affiliate partnerships and may receive a portion of sales when a reader clicks to buy a product. All products are independently selected by the G&G editorial team.

More Garden & Gun Gift Guides:

> 20 Gifts Under $100

> 20 Gifts Under $300

> 14 Luxurious Dream Gifts

> Gift Guide for Southern Cooks

> Gifts With Southern Soul

> Southern Baby Gift Guide