Tom and Jerry Batter and Cocktail Recipe

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!

Tom and Jerry Batter and Cocktail Drink

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.
Tom and Jerry Drink   Tom and Jerry Drink
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.

– “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
12 eggs
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.
Tom and Jerry Batter and Drink Recipe:
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Tom and Jerry Batter and 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
  • Boiling water
  • Rum, Brandy, or whiskey (your choice)
  • Nutmeg
  1. We usually triple (3 times) the recipe for our family.

  2. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks until thick; set aside.

  3. 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.

  4. Using your rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg yolks into the egg whites with the sugar.

  5. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups superfine or granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.

  6. Still using your rubber spatula, slowly and gradually fold in the powdered milk.

  7. 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.

  8. Serves many.

  9. How To Make Tom and Jerry Drinks:

  10. Make each individual serving in a large cup or mug:

  11. 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.

  12. Add boiling water to fill cups to 3/4 full.

  13. 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).

  14. Stir until well blended. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

    Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

* 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't find superfine sugar (also called Baker's sugar), use regular granulated sugar. I like to use the superfine sugar because it dissolves easier.

Watch a Video to Learn to Make Tom and Jerry Cocktails.

You Might Also Like:

Tom and Jerry Cocktail DrinkHot Buttered Rum
Another classic winter and holiday drink batter full of butter, brown sugar and ice cream that you store in the freeze and mix with hot water and rum for a delicious hot toddy drink.

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


Bourbon & Whiskey Cocktails    Christmas    Egg Recipes    Holiday Drinks   

Comments and Reviews

24 Responses to “Tom and Jerry Batter and Cocktail Recipe”

  1. Judy Sommers Brown

    I also grew up in the SF Bay Area and this brings back wonderful memories of my childhood. My daughter is following your recipe right now and in a few minutes we will be enjoying a cup together.

  2. Montgomery Corder

    My parents made Tom and Jerrys every year during the holidays. I introduced them to my wife and children, once they were old enough to imbibe. When we retired to Las Vegas, we no longer could find the pre-made mix! I found your recipe and served it to both of my sons and their partners last Christmas. Another holiday tradition for my family! Thank you so much. PS it gets cold in Vegas in the winter!

  3. Antoinette Vanderpool

    Tom & Jerry was the first drink that I was lucky to enjoy with my father. I lived in So. Calif.,at the time with my husband and daughter. As he was visiting from Rockford, Illinois we invited FRIENDS over to meet him. He made this drink for everyone and was enjoyed by all. We have looked for the recipe forever (as my father had passed away). Thank You Internet ????

  4. Mary Watkins

    I have just been given an antique Tom & Jerry Set (looks like the picture at the top) that belonged to a great aunt whom I was very fond of. She was beloved by the neighbors and family in her Los Angeles neighborhood from the 30’s into the 60’s for her delicious Hot Toddies. This recipe looks like something she would have made, can’t wait to try it! Thanks.

  5. Nicolle E.

    Thank you so much! I grew up in the Midwest (Minnesota) where this is still found in the grocery stores during the winter. Mind you the winters there sometimes seems to last forever. I was just asking my mom for the recipe, which she couldn’t locate right now. I remember having this when we came in from ice fishing with my dad. Growing up mom would make a virgin version of this for us kids. It’s one thing I miss at the Holidays, now that I live in Southern California.

  6. Christopher B

    Is it still called a tom and jerry if you use whisky instead of rum/brandy? I had some batter but no rum, put whisky in it and it is delicious.

    • Linda Stradley

      I still call the drink a Tom and Jerry when I decide to use whiskey instead of rum.

  7. Anamikafoodie

    the name of your drink attracted me. Its new for me. I will definitely try it.

  8. Howard Mann

    I have serving Tom and Jerrys to my friends and family for over 40 years. My recipe for Tom and Jerry is a work in progress. Every year I do something a little different. Because of the raw egg issue I have started using the store bought egg whites and egg. I don’t think it is as good, but I feel safer not using my own eggs which I have plenty of since I have chickens.

    My father served every holiday for many years while I was growing up. Some time, I don’t know when, he quit preparing Tom and Jerrys. So after I was married I began serving Tom and Jerrys

    I invite my friends and family over for Tom and Jerrys on the first Saturday of December.

    OH and instead of rum I use Brandy.


  9. Richard DeMars

    Growing up in Superior, WI. there was always an ample supply of Connoly’s Tom and Jerry batter available here at Christmas. After retiring and moving to Florida I could not buy this delicious concoction. I perused many web sites and have found a suitable replacement for this wonderful egg mixture. Christmas time now reminds me of my former home.

  10. Mike W

    I want to try the T & J recipe but I can only find “non fat” powdered milk, will this be ok or should I keep looking?

    • Whats Cooking America

      Yes, you can use non-fat powdered milk, as it will be already mixed with eggs in the batter which adds fat back in.

  11. Scott Kroger

    Great article! Good job!

  12. Betsy Jenniges

    I have my grandmothers Tom &Jerry’s bowl, mugs and my grandfathers hand written recipe, complete with batter stains. A true tradition in our family. My grandparents were from Indiana, Pennsylvania, so a recipe all over the US! Cheers!!!

  13. Joanne Harter

    In Watertown, N.Y. (Home of Fort Drum and the often-deployed U S Army 10th Mountain Division ) the place to go for Tom & Jerrys is the Crystal Restaurant, where they have been serving them for decades, using their secret family recipe. The alcohol is a blend of rum and brandy. At times, it is “standing room only” as locals flock in to get their annual “fix” between Thanksgiving week and New Years Day.

  14. Jess

    Is there a good recipe or mix of ingredients to use coffee instead of just water? I want to try something new but not sure if anyone has tried it before and how it turned out.

    • Whats Cooking America

      Since you make Tom and Jerry by the cup, I would recommend trying out one cup using coffee instead of hot water with the scoop of batter mix.

  15. Bev

    How long does the batter last in the frig?

    • Whats Cooking America

      Per the recipe instructions, you can store the batter in the fridge covered for up to one week.

  16. Peggy

    I have a partial recipe from my Mom and it uses marshmallow fluff . is there a recipe for that???

    • Whats Cooking America

      Never heard of a Tom and Jerry using marshmallow flugg. The only ingredients I can think of the marshmallow fluff replacing is the egg whites, sugar and vanilla that are whipped together to form a meringue. If you try it out and compare with the classic recipe let us know what the taste difference is.

  17. Deb Eisenmenger

    I love your Tom & Jerry recipe. My mom made it every year. It had to be served in our Okinawa cups & the liquor had to be White Christmas, a blend of Rum & Brandy. I live in Alaska now & this recipe has been passed on to my three daughters. It’s a “haffa have” at Christmas.

  18. Cody mcmenamy

    If I don’t have rum Brandy or whiskey can I use Tito’s vodka instead?


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