Tom & Jerry – Original & Best Recipe

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Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry

The History Of The Tom & Jerry.

Jerry Thomas most likely invented the Tom & Jerry since there was no reference to it till Jerry Thomas published his recipe. The cocktail is often credited with being created 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 in the 1930s, it’s still in the larger cocktail books up through the 1970s (I try to limit this project to only published literature from 1970 and earlier). In his 1972 book, Victor Bergeron 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 a weird coincidence. Joseph Barbara, of Hanna Barbara, wrote in his autobiography “My Life in Toons” how they came up with Tom and Jerry’s names. “We left the choice of names to chance. We invited studio personnel to write down pairs of names on 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; they are all long gone now.

What Is The Difference Between Eggnog And A Tom & Jerry?

Tom and Jerry are often compared to lighter eggnog, but it all depends on which recipe of a Tom and Jerry you are comparing to which eggnog recipe. If you compare a store-bought Tom and Jerry to store-bought eggnog, they taste similar. Today most eggnogs are made with cooked eggs and heavy cream, and the result is a thick, boozy custard. It’s a hefty drink, and a Tom and Jerry with heated milk are lighter with a similar flavor.

To compare apples to apples, if you compare a mid-1800s eggnog recipe to this classic style Tom and Jerry recipe, they are entirely different. This classic style of Tom and Jerry is more cappuccino-like than egg nog. The top has a nice foam similar to a cappuccino, but the drink itself is light. In an 1800s style, eggnog tastes more like a rich milk punch than today’s custard. The modern version of both drinks is similar, with the Tom and Jerry being a warm thinner version of eggnog, but the older versions of both drinks are very different.

What Is Tom & Jerry Batter?

Tom and Jerry’s batter is an egg and Christmas spice flavored mousse. It’s pretty good 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 used to publish the original recipe on this site. However, I now use an updated one that makes for a considerably better drink while still being very similar flavor-wise to the original. Most modern recipes include butter and heavy cream and 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 found this one that uses hot water to taste the best. The aroma is better; it sips better and has a more cozy feel to it. At its core, Tom and Jerry Batter face 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 would curdle. 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 stick with 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 baker’s technique to add a small amount of thickened corn starch, similar to American-style custard. American custards, cream pies, cream fillings, etc., are cooked at rapid high heat like any other dessert and do not curdle. This solution fixes the issue of curdling and lets the drink gets heated to a good hot drinks temperature while maintaining the drink’s original flavor and texture.

Make This Improved Tom & Jerry Batter Recipe.

I tried to change the original recipe and its ratios as little 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 curdling.
  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, checkout and read The Improved 1860s Style Tom & Jerry Batter article and learn about the original recipe from the 1862 Bartenders Guide.

Recipe Resources

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Tom And Jerry

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

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4 Comments

  1. Eric S says:

    When you describe how to make the batter, you never mention when or where to add the rum.

    1. Tomas Curras says:

      You’re absolutely right and am editing that right now. I also just wrote a post specifically on making the batter that I published a few minutes ago. https://vintageamericancocktails.com/tom-and-jerry-batter/ I have been experimenting with making Tom and Jerrys the past few days and getting people to who’s opinions I really trust to taste test it and I think I got a spot on recipe. It taste like the original and is still stable with high levels of alcohol and hot water. If you try it out please let me know what you think.

      Update:
      I finished editing the post and updating the recipe. Thanks again for letting me know!

  2. Beer Snobs says:

    I’ve always been hesitant to drink tom and jerrys because the recipe calls for raw egg. I feel like the eggs that goes into these drink has to be carefully selected and safe to use, I definitely won’t even attempt to make it homemade

    1. Tomas Curras says:

      I felt the same way for a long time too. There are actually quite a few drinks that call for raw eggs and after making so many I’m not too worried about it anymore. With this one too you add boiling water and that effectively cooks it.

      That being said though I once got salmonella poisoning and it’s amazing how painful it is. Like someone was feeding my intestines into a paper shredder. I got it from eating dirty food and was not by any hospitals to go to so I had to just sweat it out. I genuinely thought I was going to die lol. So understand your concern not wanting to eat raw eggs. You could try pasteurized eggs too. Although they foam up less than unpasteurized eggs. If you can’t find them at the store the only way I know to make them is with a sous vide at 130f for an hour and fifteen minutes.

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