The Tom and Jerry was a very popular cocktail before Prohibition, but seems to have faded out of existence after the repeal of Prohibition. It is a cocktail that was served either hot or cold that contained eggs. It was so popular that many bars had serving vessels made just for the Tom and Jerry cocktail. The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown, Kentucky has one of these vessels on the bar in their “barroom” display area. The drink was made with rum and brandy, but I have been told that In Kentucky, they often used Bourbon instead of rum in the cocktail. Here are some pre-Prohibition recipes:
This recipe is from Harry Johnson’s New and Improved Illustrated Bartender’s Manual of 1882:
How to mix Tom and Jerry: Use eggs according to quantity. Before using eggs, be careful and have them fresh and cold; go to work and take two bowls, break up your eggs very carefully, without mixing the yolk with the whites, but have the whites in a separate bowl, take an egg beater and beat the white of the eggs in such a manner, that it becomes a stiff froth; add 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar for each egg, and mix this thoroughly together, and then beat the yolks of the eggs, until they are as thin as water; mix the yolks of the eggs with the whites and sugar together, until the mixture gets the consistency of a light batter, and it is necessary to stir the mixture up every little while to prevent the eggs from separating.
How To Deal Out Tom And Jerry: (Take either a Tom and Jerry Mug or a Bar Glass) 2 tablespoons of the above mixture, 1 wine glass of Brandy, 1 pony glass of Jamaica Rum, fill the mug or glass with hot water or hot milk, and stir up well with a spoon, and then pour the mixture from one mug to another, three or four times, until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, grate a little nutmeg on top and serve.
Tom And Jerry (Cold): (Use a Tom and Jerry mug or bar glass) This drink is prepared on the same principle as hot Tom and Jerry, with the exception of using cold water, or milk.
This recipe is from Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide from 1876:
Tom and Jerry: (Use a punch-bowl for mixture) Take 12 fresh eggs, ½ small bar glass of Jamaica Rum, 1 ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground cloves, ½ teaspoon of ground allspice, Sufficient fine white sugar. Beat the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and the yolks until they are as thin as water, then mix together and add the spices and the rum, stir up thoroughly, and thicken with sugar until the mixture attains the consistency of a light batter.
A larger or smaller quantity of this mixture may be made by increasing or diminishing the proportions of the ingredients given in the above recipe.
N.B. – A teaspoon of cream of tartar or about as much of carbonate of soda as you can get on a dime, will prevent the sugar from settling to the bottom of the mixture.
How to Serve Tom and Jerry: (Use small bar glass) Take 1 teaspoon of the above mixture. 1 wine glass of brandy. Fill the glass with boiling water, grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve with a spoon.
Adepts at the bar, in serving Tom and Jerry, sometimes employ the following mixture: – one-half brandy, one-quarter Jamaica Rum, one-quarter Santa Cruz Rum. For convenience, these proportions are mixed and kept in a bottle, and a wine glassful is used to each tumbler of Tom and Jerry, instead of plain brandy.
After Prohibition, the Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide from 1935 has the Tom and Jerry recipe very much like the two given above. My collection of these books are sparse, but I found the recipe in a 1957 edition of the book, but not in the later editions from the 1970s and 80s. Gary Regan’s The Bartender’s Bible published in 1991 has the following recipe that allows for the use of a single egg:
Tom and Jerry: 1 whole egg, separated, 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda, 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, 2 ounces plus 1 teaspoon light rum, 6 ounces hot milk, ½ ounce brandy, 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk the yolk until it becomes frothy. Fold the white into the yolk. Add the baking soda, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the rum. Whisk it all together to form a stiff batter. Pour the batter into a warm beer mug and dissolve it in ¼ of the hot milk. Add the rest of the rum and the brandy. Fill the mug with the rest of milk, stir, and sprinkle the nutmeg on top.
The Tom and Jerry is not a popular drink in bars today compared to how popular it was before Prohibition. In all of my recent cocktail books, only Gary Regan’s The Bartender’s Bible included the cocktail. I suspect that between the use of raw eggs and the trouble of mixing the batter, bartenders are not inclined to make this drink anymore.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller