This is a pain-in-the-ass drink to mix, but one well-worth the rosy noses it will produce. A descendent of Eggnog, the Tom & Jerry was created sometime in the early 19th century, most likely in New England. In numerous accounts, Professor Jerry Thomas claims its conception in 1847, having been quoted as naming it after himself and “two small white mice” he kept as pets called, of course, Tom and Jerry. However, reports of the warm, egg-based nog have been documented in America since the 1820s, and is sometimes even credited to English author Pierce Egan, who penned a play of the same name in 1821 (though there is no evidence to corroborate it in UK records). According to Dave Wondrich, the name does come indirectly from Egan. “To go Tom & Jerrying was to go out on the town, and a Tom & Jerry was also a low dive. And, in this case, a festive but lethal sort of drink,” says Wondrich. Though Thomas’s tale of ownership is a tall one, he became the drink’s greatest ambassador and, according to Dave Wondrich’s Imbibe!, dedicated bowls were filled with batter each winter season across America until its popularity died down near the turn of the 20th century. Alongside today’s renewed sense of cocktail curiosity, comes a new wave of noggy excitement with recipes tailored to today’s palates, including this version from Andrew Bohrer in Seattle. Butter and vanilla are modern additions, but the base remains the same: frothy, spiced egg batter mixed into dark rum and brandy, and topped with warm milk and nutmeg.
- 12 eggs
- 1 cup sugar, superfine
- 750 ml brandy, VS or VSOP
- 750 ml rum, aged
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon allspice, ground
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1 teaspoon cloves, ground
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- milk, whole
Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
- Separate egg whites from yolks into two large bowls.
- Add butter and sugar to egg yolks, and beat with an electric mixer. Mix will be slightly chunky.
- Beat egg whites to stiff peaks (using clean beaters).
- Using a spatula, gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture until color and consistency is the same.
- To finish the batter, stir in allspice, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.
- If desired, batter can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator, covered, for a few hours before assembly.
- To assemble Tom & Jerrys, gently heat milk in a saucepan over low heat (amount depends on how many drinks you plan to serve).
- Add 1 tablespoon of batter to a mug or small rocks glass.
- While constantly stirring batter, add one ounce brandy and one ounce rum.
- Fill to the top with milk (or hot water, or a 1:1 ratio), and stir until foamy.
- Grate fresh nutmeg over top to garnish.