Tom and Jerry cocktail recipe is a classic holiday cocktail drink that is enjoyed by many starting with the Thanksgiving holiday all the way to New Year’s day. The main ingredients of the Tom and Jerry batter is made of beaten eggs, sugar, and vanilla. A healthy scoop of the batter is added to the cup, then hot water, and the liquor of your choice (rum, brandy or whiskey) is stirred in. The Tom and Jerry cocktail is finally topped with a dash of nutmeg. The taste is best described as drinking a warm Christmas sugar cookie. Once you make your first batch of batter mix, it gets a bit addictive as it is so easy to make and so delicious!
The Tom and Jerry cocktail drink is a Christmas tradition for my family. We have been making Tom and Jerry drinks to mark the Christmas season for as long as I can remember. For some reason, the men in our family like to mix up the batter mix and prepare the cocktails. Maybe it is because they are looking forward to the first cup! Traditionally, we prepare the Tom and Jerry batter and serve up with Whisky to the adults on Christmas Eve. The kids get to enjoy virgin Tom and Jerry’s too so everyone in the family is included. Virgin Tom and Jerry drinks are just as delicious with just the batter mixed with hot water and the liquor is omitted. I can not imagine Christmas without this Tom and Jerry Drink!
Tom and Jerry’s are often mistaken for eggnog – but eggnog it is not! A Tom and Jerry cocktail drink is light with a foamy crown that forms when hot water is stirred into the batter. Tom and Jerry’s have more of a sweet vanilla flavor (hence the feeling of drinking a warm sugar cookie) while eggnog is a thicker/heavier drink. There are no egg whites used to make eggnog foamy and it is more of a milk-based drink with a combination of spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Please check out my Christmas Prime Rib Dinner Menu and Holiday Open House Menu which includes this delicious holiday Tom and Jerry Batter recipe.
History of Tom and Jerry Cocktails:
There is debate on the origin of the Tom and Jerry Drink, whether it was invented by a British journalist who named the drink after characters in his popular novel in the 1820’s or if it was invented by an American bartender in 1850 who first published a recipe. The Tom and Jerry drink used to be extremely popular in the United States. For over one hundred years, you could even buy Tom and Jerry drink sets. A resurgence of the drink’s popularity came about in the 1940’s after the World War II. This is most likely due to more families entertaining at home instead of the bars.
Special drink sets were sold with a punch bowl for the batter and matching mugs with “Tom and Jerry” written on the bowl and each mug. We do not see Tom and Jerry’s served as much nowadays, but this cocktail still lives on strongly in the Midwest, especially in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Perhaps it due to the long cold winters in this area of the country. It is very common for Midwesterner’s to find the Tom and Jerry drink batter in their local markets during the holiday season.
Examples of antique Tom and Jerry drink sets from the 1940s
1821 – Pierce Egan, British journalist and author of the popular novel, “The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq. and His Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom” and the following stage play “Tom and Jerry, or Life in London” is rumored to have named a “Tom and Jerry” drink after characters in his book as a publicity stunt. Egan’s version is a variation of eggnog that added brandy in addition to the rum. The additional alcohol made the drink very popular.
1862 – “Professor” Jerry Thomas, a famous American bartender from New York City and author of the first bartender guide, “How to Mix Drinks: or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion,” 1862, includes some of the earliest recipes for America’s favorite cocktails. His recipe version for Tom and Jerry’s calls for 12 eggs and uses hot water instead of milk. Because of the book’s popularity, Americans have adopted this Tom and Jerry recipe and the drink was extremely popular across the United States until his death in 1885:
5 lbs. sugar
1/2 small glass of Jamaica rum
1 1/2 teaspoonful of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of ground 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 spice and rum, thicken with sugar until the mixture attains the consistence 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 ½ brandy, ¼ Jamaica rum and ¼ Santa Cruz rum, instead of brandy plain. This compound is usually mixed and keep 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.
NOTE: The original version of the drink needed all that sugar to thicken the mixture against the hot water.
1952 – Puerto Rican Rum advertisement in Life Magazine, Nov 17, 1952, pg 110, features “Traditional American Drinks – Delicious with Puerto Rican Rum:
Tom and Jerry: Into the beaten yolk of 1 egg, work 1 tsp sugar, ¼ tsp Allspice, 2 oz. Puerto Rican Rum, beating until smooth and thick. Beat egg white separately to stiff froth and add to above mixture, stirring well. Put this mixture into a preheated mug, fill with hot milk or boiling water and dust with nutmeg. History’s all-time greatest Winter Warmer.
Classic Tom and Jerry Batter and Drink Recipe:
Tom and Jerry Drink Recipe
6 eggs, separated and room temperature*
2 1/4 cups superfine sugar, divided**
Salt to taste (just a small pinch)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered milk
Rum, brandy, or whiskey (your choice)
* I know that they say you should not use raw eggs anymore! We do and have for many, many years. Just be sure and purchase very fresh or pasteurized eggs to use for this wonderful drink.
** If you can not find superfine sugar (also called Baker's sugar), use regular granulated sugar. I like to use the superfine sugar because it dissolves easier.
We usually triple (3 times) the recipe for our family.
How To Make Tom and Jerry Batter:
In a small bowl, beat egg yolks until thick; set aside.
In a large bowl of your electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, fold 1/2 cup superfine or granulated sugar slowly into the prepared egg whites.
Using your rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg yolks into the egg whites with the sugar. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups superfine or granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.
Still using your rubber spatula, slowly and gradually fold in the powdered milk.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator, and use as needed. Will keep up to one (1) week in the refrigerator. Mixture will probably separate in the refrigerator. No problem - just stir and use. The drink will still turn out frothy and delicious.
How To Make Tom and Jerry Drinks:
Make each individual serving in a large cup or mug:
Place 1 to 3 heaping tablespoons of prepared Tom and Jerry batter into each cup (amount depends on size of cup and to your taste preference). Our family uses 3 heaping tablespoons for an 8-ounce cup.
Add boiling water to fill cups to 3/4 full.
Add 1 ounce of either rum, brandy, or whiskey to each cup (use the amount of liquor you desire - for children, leave the liquor out).
Stir until well blended. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Serve and enjoy!
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Hot Buttered Rum
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Egg Nog Punch
This is an excellent egg nog recipe for a large crowd during the holidays.
Mexican Egg Nog (Rompope)
Rompope, also known as Rompope de Santa Clara, is the Mexican version of the popular holiday egg nog. The word “rompope” is a derivation of the word “pope.” This is a favorite holiday drink in Mexico, and since Rompope is strong and sweet, it is meant to be sipped in small glasses.
Italian Affogato – Affogato al Cafe
Affogato means “drowned” in Italian or “drowned in coffee.” It is a dish of perfect, preferably smooth ice cream, drowning in a cup of espresso – like a decadent coffee float!
The Kitchen Project website, Food History, The History of Egg Nog, by Stephen Block, Dec 16, 2006.
The Etsy Blog, Kitchen Histories: The Tom and Jerry, by Sarah Lohman, Dec 17, 2012.
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum Cocktail to the Zombie, by Ted Haigh, October 1, 2004.
MaClean’s website, Tom and Jerry, and boughs of holly, by Sarah Elton, Dec 21, 2009.
Comments from readers:
When I found your site it just jumped out at me because of the Tom and Jerry Batter
recipe. It brought back so many great memories of my childhood. I was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. Every spirit shop carried Tom and Jerry mix. I have not seen it in years. Mom and Dad would never go a year with out T&J mix in the house for drop in guest or parties. I just wanted to thank you for bringing fond memories back. I lost my Mom and Dad within 3 years of each other. Holidays are when I really miss them so much. Now that I have found your site I will keep coming back. I will also tell my friends what a great site you have. Thanks For The Memories. – Reverend Dee Dee De MossI am so happy to find this recipe. This was the favorite holiday tradition for me and my father. There used to be a beverage dock and the owner made it for the holidays and I have never been able to find it in years. This will be a chance for me to start the tradition again with my now married family and honor my father. Thank you. – Willie