Let’s Bring Back This Forgotten Christmas Cocktail That’s Better Than Egg Nog
This holiday drink seems to have disappeared from the Quad Cities, but I do my part every year to celebrate and enjoy this yummy hot drink that most of the Quad Cities have forgotten.
I'm talking about the ever-elusive holiday drink, the Tom and Jerry. It's a traditional Christmastime drink that used to be popular in the United States. According to Wikipedia, it was a derivative of egg nog and it's believed to have been invented by a British journalist in the 1820s.
The drink's name is a reference to Egan's book, Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom. There was also a stage play Tom and Jerry, or Life in London. In hopes of publicizing the plan and the book, Egan introduced the drink as a variation of egg nog, but he added brandy to help popularize the drink. I think the Tom and Jerry is much better than egg nog.
It's no surprise we don't often see this cocktail on menus in Iowa and Illinois. The drink batter was mostly produced at Christmastime and distributed in supermarkets in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas.
You will find Tom and Jerry's in pop culture. It was a favorite drink of President Warren G. Harding, who served it at an annual Christmas party for his friends.
The drink is featured in Damon Runyan's story Dancing Dan's Christmas. Here's a passage from the story.
This hot Tom and Jerry is an old time drink that is once used by one and all in this country to celebrate Christmas with, and in fact it is once so popular that many people think Christmas is invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry, although of course this is by no means true.
In the 1940 film Beyond Tomorrow, the characters drink Tom and Jerrys on Christmas Eve in the beginning of the film, according to Wikipedia.
The traditional Tom and Jerry is made up of a batter including whipped egg yolks, whipped egg whites, powdered sugar, vanilla, hot milk, and brandy or rum. It's topped with a bit of nutmeg. You can leave the booze out for the kids.
I had some experience making this batter. My family used to prepare these in large quantities and give them away at our family restaurant every Christmas and New Year's Day. If you don't want to tackle the batter, Hy-Vee sells it pre-made in the bakery department.
You can even order the batter on Amazon.
Here's how you make a Tom and Jerry.
Warm a mug of milk or water that's about 2/3 of the way full. Drop in a hefty dollop of batter and add a full shot of brandy, rum, or whiskey. Give a slight stir. You want the batter to stay a little stiff like whipped cream on top of hot chocolate. Decorate with a sprinkle of nutmeg and serve with a spoon.
Here's a helpful video to guide you through the process.
t's a sweet warm beverage that will keep you warm after you drink it; especially if you use whiskey. Leave the booze out for the kids.
These drinks were so prevalent at one time, there were tiny, specialty, mugs used just for sipping these warm spirits.
You won't want too many of these in one sitting. The batter is uncooked whipped raw eggs, so one or two of these are plenty. We drink these on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. I hope you like the forgotten holiday drink, the humble Tom and Jerry. Enjoy and happy holidays!
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