The Saratoga Sun -

Tom and Jerry for Christmas

Try this classic 19th century drink to warm up


November 27, 2019

The cold weather is bearing down on us and so are the holidays. This is the time of year when people break out their recipes of hot toddies or egg nog to get in the spirit of Christmas and keep warm.

There is an old time 19th century hot drink that was famous in its day, but has sadly fallen off most drink menus and many modern recipe books; The Tom and Jerry.

No, the drink was not named after the famous cartoon duo, because the bartender who created this drink first published it in 1862.

Jerry Thomas, also known as Professor Jerry Thomas, was the first barman to publish his recipes. He was as famous in Europe as he was in the United States. During this time, bartenders were equal to chefs for their skills. This is starting to happen again in present day, but Thomas was truly the first person of beverage skills to put recipes down for all to read.

His first edition, from Dick and Fitzgerald, was published in 1862, and is a collectors item. There were 8000 published and the earliest was titled “Bar-Tenders Guide or How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks”. There are later editions published in the 1880s and then in the mid 1930s. Those run in the hundreds of dollars. First editions can go from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on their condition.

How the Tom and Jerry got its name is anybody’s guess. But it would not be far-fetched to think Thomas named it after himself. Flip the name Jerry and Tom and you have a good portion of Jerry Thomas’ name. We do know that it was first introduced at the Planters House Hotel in St. Louis in 1850.

Because it is made with egg, it is confused for a type of egg nog. It is not.

The first recipe comes from the original 1862 edition and, be warned, it is not the easiest to understand when figuring out proportions. In truth you are making a batter that will be incorporated into hot water.

Tom & Jerry

Take 12 fresh eggs and separate the yolks from the white.

½ small bar-glass of Jamaica Rum

11/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground cloves

Sufficient fine white sugar

Beat the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth and the yolks until they are thin as water, then mix together the spice and rum, stir thoroughly, and thicken with sugar until the mixture attains the consistence of light batter. A teaspoon of cream of tartar will prevent the sugar from settling to the bottom of the bowl.

Once done with the batter, get a wine glass of boiling water, add brandy with a tablespoon of mixture. Stir and grate nutmeg. The batter is enough for two dozen drinks.

This drink has morphed to now using hot milk instead of water, although it tastes fine as half water and half milk. The key is for it to be hot.

Besides milk taking the place of water, bartenders have learned to adjust proportions to make it in much smaller quantities. The below recipe makes two drinks.

Recipe for 2

One egg, separated

2 ounces of dark rum

2 ounces of brandy (bourbon is a popular substitute)

1 tablespoon of sugar

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of allspice

Heat 12 ounces of milk (water/milk)

Whisk the egg yolk with the spirits in a small bowl. Beat the egg white with sugar and spices until it gets stiff and fold this into egg yolk bowl. Divide it into two mugs and hot beverage stirring until foamy. Sprinkle a little fresh ground nutmeg.

This drink is a bit labor intensive, but you’re getting a taste of a holiday treat that goes back generations. In truth, after you have a Tom and Jerry, you may never want to drink egg nog again.


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