Tom and Jerry

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The Tom and Jerry is a traditional drink for cold weather, often served during the holidays. It is often said that it shouldn't be served before the first snowfall, or after the last. The drink is made by starting out with a batter mix, and then preparing each individual drink with a measure of batter, a hot liquid (originally with water, but often made these days with hot milk instead), and sprits.


Despite the multiple ingredients, the batter recipe comes together very quickly, and once made will easily hold in the refrigerator for several days or longer. It can then be quickly mixed up for individual drinks.


  • 6 Eggs (yolks & whites separated)
  • 1 lb superfine sugar
  • 1 oz of Aged Rum
  • 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Ground cloves
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  1. Use a food processor to beat the egg whites until slightly stiff. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. In the same processor, beat the egg yolks until they are thin and pale yellow.
  3. Gradually add sugar, spices, rum & vanilla to egg yolks (while food processor is running). Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add the egg yolk mixture to the egg whites, and mix well.
  5. Store in sterilized container in the refrigerator. (A quart mason jar works well)

To Serve

  • Stir the batter mixture well before each drink to mix up anything that has settled.
  • Add 2 oz. of batter in a preheated, (10 oz) Irish coffee mug.
  • Add 1 oz aged rum + 1 oz cognac.
  • Fill with 6 oz boiling milk, briskly stirring with a short whisk (optimal) or spoon while adding milk, so that the two ingredients are beaten together.
  • Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.


The origin stories of the Tom and Jerry are numerous. Some will point back to "Professor" Jerry Thomas himself as the originator of this drink in 1847. Part of the reason for this is that the esteemed bartender himself told the story on many occasions. Unfortunately, this was recently shown to be incorrect when David Wondrich came across a reference in the Salem Gazette of March 20, 1827 (two years before Mr. Thomas was born) recounting an incident in Police Court, where a “lad of about thirteen years of age” was tried for theft. He was acquitted because it was deemed he was “...deranged, probably in consequence of the “hell-broth” that he had been drinking”. The drink was named “Tom and Jerry”, and described as “eggs, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and rum”.

While the date and place when the Tom and Jerry first hit the scene may never be known, it is believed that it at least partially owes credit to "Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom", which was a book published in 1821. This was turned into a hit play entitled “Life in London; or The Day and Night Scenes of Tom and Jerry in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis,” which came to America in 1823.[1]

In 1862, Jerry Thomas printed the first book of recipes for cocktails and mixed drinks, here, he listed the recipe for the Tom and Jerry as:

174. Tom and Jerry.
(Use punch-bowl for the mixture.)

    5 lbs. sugar.
    12 eggs.
    1/2 small glass of Jamaica rum.
    1 1/2 teaspoonful of ground cinnamon.
    1/2            do.                do.    cloves.
    1/2            do.                do.    allspice.
  Beat the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and the
yolks until they are as thin as water, then mix together
and add the spices and rum, thicken with sugar until the
mixture attains the consistency of a light batter.
    To deal out Tom and Jerry to customers:
    Take a small bar glass, and to one table-spoonful of the
above mixture add one wine-glass of brandy, and fill the
glass with boiling water, grate a little nutmeg on top.
    Adepts at the bar, in serving Tom and Jerry, sometimes
adopt a mixture of 1/2 brandy, 1/4 Jamaica rum, and 1/4 Santa
Cruz rum, instead of brandy plain. This compound is
usually mixed and kept in a bottle, and a wine-glassful
is used to each tumbler of Tom and Jerry.
    N. B. - A tea-spoonful of cream of tartar, or about as
much carbonate of soda as you can get on a dime, will
prevent the sugar from settling to the bottom of the mixture.
    This drink is sometimes called Copenhagen, and
sometimes Jerry Thomas.

In modern days, the Tom and Jerry has been eclipsed by the Egg Nog as the favored holiday tipple, but it has gradually been making a comeback, mostly due to the diligent efforts of Audrey Saunders and other bartenders who have seen the value of this drink. Saunders was first introduced to it by Dale DeGroff while working at Blackbird in 1999, and she has been serving it to her patrons at each of her bars every year since. In 2003, David Wondrich helped to usher in the craft cocktail movement with the "A Tribute to "Professor" Jerry Thomas Father of the Cocktail" event at the Plaza Hotel in New York. He invited a handful of the nations leading bartenders to serve up drinks from Mr. Thomas' "The Bartenders' Companion", which was the first printed book of cocktail recipes. Audrey Saunders chose to serve up the Tom and Jerry to the attendees, for many of which this would have been the first taste of this drink.[2]

As the craft cocktail movement has evolved, the Tom and Jerry has gradually been gaining more and more attention. It can now be found at many of the best bars as a festive winter warmer.

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