Tom & Jerry Batter | Improved 1860s Recipe

Original 1860s Tom & Jerry Batter by Jerry Thomas

This is the Original 1860s Jerry Thomas recipe for the tom and Jerry from his 1862 Edition of The Bartenders Guide.

  • 12 Eggs
  • 8 cups (2 kg) of sugar
  • 2 oz (60 mLs) gold rum
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground cloves
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground allspice
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground cinnamon

Separate the egg whites and yolks.  Add the spices and sugar to the egg whites and beat the whites to a stiff meringue. Beat the egg yolks to thin them out a bit and then mix them in with the meringue.

Original Recipe vs. Modern Recipes vs. This Improved 1860s Recipe

Modern recipes are quite a bit fattier than the original and I can see why. Fats like butter prevent the egg proteins from linking together when heated but butter also completely changes the drinks flavor. I did quite a few experiments and the issue with this recipe is you can not use hot water or hot milk, because it will cook the egg whites and make the drink lumpy. Only warm water works. Every recipe you find on line that is not fatty does not use actually hot water but just warmed water or milk. This is a common issue for desserts like flan and soufflé and thus why they are cooked in water baths to prevent them from getting too hot. The trick to maintaining the flavor of the original Tom and Jerry and making it so the drink does not get lumpy when hot water is added, is to make this like a custard. Adding a small amount of thickened cornstarch will not change the flavor or texture of the drink and prevents the egg proteins from binding into poached eggs.

The more modern butter or heavy cream filled tom and jerry recipes are good but to me they are bit too thick. Too close to an egg nog in my opinion. What I like about the original recipe is its flavorful and very drinkable. Not too thin and not too thick, but it doesn’t heat well. Anytime a Tom and Jerry recipe calls for hot water or milk they mean “lightly heated”. This makes for a lukewarm drink that feels like it was forgotten on the counter. By simply adding a cornstarch slurry this improved version is both true to the original flavor and texture while also being able to be heated like a proper hot drink. (I also reduced the sugar, as it was WAY to sweet). It all comes down to personal preference and the best way to find out is to make each one and try them.

Should You Buy It Or Make It

A jar or bucket of Tom & Jerry batter are oddly expensive considering these are ingredients you probably have in your fridge right now. Its mostly a midwest drink too, so if you don’t live in the midwest its hard to find. Making Tom and Jerry Batter does require a small amount of baking skills too as meringue is not the easiest ingredient to make right and you will need an electric mixer of some sort (hand mixer is fine, it doesn’t have to be one of those larger KitchenAid ones). Do not try and make this by hand with a balloon whisk. Making meringue with a whisk is almost impossible. You need an egg beater or electric mixer otherwise your forearms will be on fire.

Again if you do not live in the midwest than you are kinda forced to make this yourself but even if you do a homemade Tom and Jerry Batter is worth it. Better product, you know what you put in it, easily adjust the sweetness to your taste, much cheaper to make it than buy it, and it only take about 15 minutes to make.

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Tom & Jerry Batter | Classic 1860s Jerry Thomas Recipe

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

15

servings
Calories

150

kcal
Total time

15

minutes

An Improved version of the original Jerry Thomas Tom and Jerry recipe that maintains the spirit of the original.

Ingredients

  • 6 whole Eggs

  • 1.5 cups Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tbs Corn Starch

  • 1 oz Gold Rum

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Directions

  • Combine cornstarch and 2 ounces of cold water, stir till the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is thick, then set aside.
  • Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls.
  • Add the sugar to the egg whites and using an electric mixer (you would be crazy to do this by hand) beat the eggs into a medium peak meringue.
  • Once you are done beating, still using the electric mixer, slowly add the thickened wet corn starch. The cornstarch can only be added after you are done beating the meringue. The cornstarch prevents the meringue from cooking when you add hot water and turning into poached eggs.
  • In the second bowl with the egg yolks add the rum, ground cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Using the electric mixer again beat the yolks till they become lighter in color and runny.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture to the meringue and fold to combine.

Notes

Cocktails That Use Tom & Jerry Batter

Tom & Jerry | Improved 1862 Jerry Thomas Recipe

Tom & Jerry Batter

Tom and Jerry batter is basically an egg yolk and Christmas spice flavored mousse. It’s actually pretty good on its own and doesn’t need to be mixed into a drink. You can make it yourself or Tom and Jerry batter can be bought in stores during the holiday season in the upper midwest, where the drink is still pretty popular. I use to publish the original recipe on this site but I now use an updated one that I feel makes for a considerably better drink while still being very similar flavor wise to the original. Most modern recipe include butter, heavy cream, and as a result are much denser and almost eggnog like. Mine does not. If the recipe is true to the classic and lacks a heavy fat ingredient then the problem they are stuck with is using just warm water or milk as meringue can not be heated so violently and rapidly. These versions taste fine but I personally found this one that uses actually hot water to taste the best. The aroma is better, it sips better, and just has a more cozy feel to it. At its core, the issue Tom and Jerry Batter faces is the same issue all egg based desserts face when heated. The risk of curdling.

Most desserts try to solve this problem by cooking in a water bath so the egg doesn’t get too hot and the original 1862 recipe could only use warm water and not hot or else it too would curdle too. Most modern recipes try to fix this by adding butter or heavy cream since a cooked protein will bond to fat before bonding to another protein, or they just stick with using kinda warm water or milk. While this keeps the drink from curdling it either completely changes the flavor and texture or makes for a weak old tasting drink. The solution I am using is an old bakers technique to add small amount of thickened corn starch similar to American style custard. American custards, cream pies, cream fillings, etc are cooked at rapid high heats like any other dessert and do not curdle. This solution fixes the issue of curdling and lets the drink get heated to a proper hot drinks temperature, while maintaining the drinks original flavor and texture.

Improved Tom & Jerry Batter Recipe

I tried to change as little about the original recipe and its ratios as possible. The only changes I made were adding cornstarch as a stabilizer, and reducing the sugar to a more balanced amount. If you do not add cornstarch then DO NOT use hot water. Only use warmed water or milk as the rapid heat will curdle the egg and make the drink lumpy.

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1.5 cups (360 g) of sugar
  • 1 tbs (15 g) Cornstarch
  • 1 oz (30 mLs) gold rum
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) ground cinnamon
  1. Combine cornstarch and an ounce of hot water, stir till the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is thick, then set aside.
  2. Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls.
  3. Add the sugar to the egg whites and using an electric mixer (you would be crazy to do this by hand) beat the eggs into a medium peak meringue.
  4. Once you are done beating, still using the electric mixer, slowly add the thickened wet corn starch. The cornstarch can only be added after you are done beating the meringue. The cornstarch prevents the meringue from cooking when you add hot water and turning into poached eggs.
  5. In the second bowl with the egg yolks add the rum, ground cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Using the electric mixer again beat the yolks till they become lighter in color and runny.
  6. Add the egg yolk mixture to the meringue and fold to combine.

If you are curious check out and read the full The Improved 1860s Style Tom & Jerry Batter article and learn about the original recipe from the 1862 Bartenders Guide.

Eggnog vs. Tom & Jerry

The Tom and Jerry is often compared to a lighter eggnog but it all depends on which recipe of a Tom and Jerry you are comparing to which recipe of eggnog. If you are comparing a store bought Tom and Jerry to store bough eggnog, then yes, they do taste similar. Most eggnogs today are made with cooked eggs and heavy cream and the result is a thick boozy custard. Its a very heavy drink and a Tom and Jerry with heated milk is much lighter with a similar in flavor.

For the sake of comparing apples to apples, if you compare a mid 1800s eggnog recipe to this classic style Tom and Jerry recipe then they are completely different. This classic style Tom and Jerry is more cappuccino like than egg nog. The top has a nice foam to it similar to a cappuccino but the drink itself is light. An 1800s style, eggnog taste more like a rich milk punch than todays custard like ones. The modern version of both drinks are similar, with the Tom and Jerry being a warm thinner version of eggnog, but the older version of both drinks are very different.

History Of The Tom & Jerry

Jerry Thomas most likely invented the Tom & Jerry since there is no reference to it till Jerry Thomas published his recipe. The cocktail is often credited to being invented by him anyway. The story goes that he named the drink after his two pet mice, Thomas and Jerry, which he named after himself. Even Savoy credits him with inventing it and the Savoy is pretty on point.

While the Tom & Jerry seems to fade a bit in the 1930s its still in the larger cocktail books up through the 1970s (I try to limit this project to only published literature from 1970 and earlier). Victor Bergeron in his 1972 book even gives a single serve recipe if one needs to be made on the spot. The Tom & Jerry is a very preparation and labor intensive drink so I feel this is relegated to be more of a home holiday party cocktail and I have never once seen this at a bar ever.

When I first heard of this cocktail I wondered if the iconic MGM cat and mouse cartoon Tom and Jerry were named after it. Unfortunately no one knows if the cartoon famous Cat and Mouse duo Tom and Jerry were named after the drink, but it would be quite the coincidence. Joseph Barbara, of Hanna Barbara, wrote in his autobiography “My Life in Toons” how they came up with the names Tom and Jerry. “We left the choice of names to chance. We invited studio personnel to write down pairs of names on pieces of paper and toss them into a hat. We shook the hat and drew Tom and Jerry, which had been submitted by an animator named John Carr. He won fifty dollars.” Maybe John Carr knew the drink from a holiday party, who knows, they are all long gone now.

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Tom & Jerry – Original 1862 jerry Thomas Recipe

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

192

kcal
ABV

10%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a Tom & Jerry Cocktail.

Ingredients

Directions

  • Drop batter into a ceramic or heat resistant mug. Batter recipe is posted above or click here to read it.
  • Add warm water and stir till the batter is completely incorporated into the water.
  • Lastly add the spirit and give a couple last stirs to finish mixing the drink.
  • Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Notes