I mean, I do love a good Tom & Jerry Marathon on Cartoon Network. My kids adore Tom & Jerry, will watch them for hours and laugh hysterically at the old 40’s humor of the hapless cat and cunning little mouse.
I’m talking about this delightful, traditional Christmas drink.
At least it is a tradition where I come from. I can remember my Grandma Bea making these at Christmas time way back in the day. She would always make us one too, generally with just hot water, but after she had a couple in her you might get lucky and have one made with a teaspoon of booze. If you are ever in Wisconsin around Christmas and you stumble upon a Elks/Moose/Knights of Columbus Christmas party, they will probably be serving Tom & Jerry’s.
Now, however, it seems not many people under the age of 40, or west of the Mississippi know what I am talking about when I speak of their ambrosia like qualities.
A history lesson shall ensue.
Apparently they have been around since 1821. According to Wikipedia (via google-LOVE google) they are named after some book from 1821 called:
Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom
A very long and boring title. It must have been popular because it was turned into a stage play called Tom and Jerry, or Life in London. So the author of the book came up with the (rather brilliant) idea of adding 1/2 oz of brandy to eggnog, served it warm and then called it a ‘Tom & Jerry’ to promote both the play and the book.
The funniest line of the whole Wiki definition is this (in regards to the addition of the brandy):
‘The additional fortification helped popularize the drink’
So one day a few Christmas seasons ago, in a fit of Christmas nostalgia, I hopped on ebay and found this vintage Fire King Tom & Jerry set. Of course it is milk glass, probably from the late 50’s early 60’s judging by design. Not sure what inspired me to get an actual bona fide Tom & Jerry set, because I am pretty sure my relatives just sat around drinking these out of whatever chipped coffee mugs were available.
But dang, it is super cute in a Lucy & Ethel kind of way.
I just checked ebay again and there are several for sale, so if you want to add some authenticity to your Tom & Jerry making, you should probably get one. They are not too expensive at all.
Let’s do a quick comparison of mug sizes from 1950ish to now.
Once you have your very own piece of vintage Christmas kitsch, you will need to dig through your cupboards, refrigerator and liquor cabinet for the following items:
You are also going to need some brandy. I thought I had some way back in the cabinet, but it seems it must have all gotten used up in the summer rush of sangria making.
You need to separate your eggs. No getting around it this time.
Beat your butter, powder sugar and egg yolks together.
Then beat your egg whites until soft peaks form.
I know I am acting like a 5th grade boy, but really. Look at those.
After peak admiration, stir the egg whites into the butter mixture.
Add all your spices and pop it into your Lucy Ricardo kitchenware.It is best if it sets for an hour or two before you use it.
The recipe I am giving you will yield 56 servings. Of course, the batter is delicious and I always use at least 2 servings per drink because it is like when you run out of marshmallows in your hot chocolate and then you have to add more. So the recipe yield is probably more like 25 servings. I divided it and only made about 12 servings. You can keep the batter in your refrigerator in a covered container for several weeks. It can also be frozen.
Back to drink making…..
Now for a true T & J, you need 1/2 shot of brandy and 1/2 shot of rum, but it will taste just fine if you use a whole shot of one or the other.
I am a stickler for authenticity, so I of course, will be running to the store to pick up some brandy…..
Fill the rest of the cup about 3/4 way with HOT water (like if you were making tea). If you don’t care about calories, you could also use hot milk or even hot cocoa. However I save all my calories for the additional scoop of batter. Make sure to leave room for the batter.
A nice large tablespoon of Tom & Jerry mix tops it off. Let it sit for about 30 seconds and then enjoy!
These are best consumed after any kind of chilly Christmas activity.
If you don’t partake in chilly activities, just turn off the heat in your house and drink them while watching old Christmas movies.
You will not be disappointed in your new frame of reference for the meaning of ‘Tom & Jerry’.
Tom & Jerry Mix
(REMEMBER-this yield is 56 servings)
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add the egg yolks one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat egg whites until foamy in a large glass or metal mixing bowl, continuing to beat until soft peaks form. Lift your beater or whisk straight up: the egg whites will form soft mounds rather than a sharp peak. Mix the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Stir in the rum, salt, mace, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.
To use the mix, combine 1/2 ounce rum, 1/2 oz brandy and 1 cup hot water or milk in a mug. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the Tom and Jerry mixture.