Dating from the early 1800’s, the Tom & Jerry can be described as a hot variation of an eggnog, and likewise is traditionally served at Christmas time.
The first known reference to the Tom & Jerry as a drink comes from the Salem Gazette of March 20, 1827 in the form of recounting an incident in Police Court, where a “lad of about thirteen years of age” was tried for theft. He was acquitted because it was deemed he was “…deranged, probably in consequence of the “hell-broth” that he had been drinking”. The drink was named “Tom and Jerry”, and described as “eggs, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and rum”.
There are a few slight variations of the Tom & Jerry, some use rum only, others brandy only, but I think the combination of rum in the batter and brandy in the drink makes for a good balance. You’ll also often see the drink made with hot water, but I find that hot milk makes for a richer drink that just seems more appropriate for a cold winter day.
As the story goes, Tom & Jerry’s should never be served until after the first snow, so sit back and watch the weather, and the moment that first flake begins to float out of the heavens, see if you can have your drink warming your hands before it hits the ground.
Tom and Jerry (batter mix)
Garnish: Grated nutmeg
Beat egg whites to a stiff froth, and the yolks until they are as thin as water. Mix yolks and whites together and add the rum, spices, and cream of tartar. Thicken with sugar until the mixture attains the consistence of a light batter. In a coffee mug, combine one table-spoonful of the above mixture, and 2 ounces of brandy, and then fill the glass with piping hot milk.