Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Leah Hall
This is a family tradition cocktail, the Tom and Jerry drink is one that we have every year! This Tom and Jerry Recipe is the perfect holiday boozy treat that works all season long!
Every year after the turkey and sides have been eaten, and about the time everyone starts to get hungry for pie, someone will break out the mixer and the hot water and make up a big batch of hot cocktails called the Tom and Jerry. For us, making the classic Tom and Jerry recipe is officially the start of the Christmas season, especially on a snowy November day! Likewise, our tradition is to start decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, and these Tom and Jerry’s keep flowing at family events until after the New Year.
We think this vintage cocktail is about to make a big comeback, or at least it should, it’s delicious! If it’s your first time making it, make sure to read for tips below.
This post contains affiliate links for products that we think you as readers might find useful, and we make commission off of these! For more details about our affiliates, click our Disclosure and Contacts Page.
Why is it Called a Tom and Jerry Drink?
Claimed to be originally created back in the 1840’s as a winter cocktail at St. Louis’s Planter House Hotel by Jerry Thomas. Thomas authored the first cocktail book Bar-Tender’s Guide, How to Mix Drinks back in 1862 and he was considered the godfather of American mixology. In many accounts, Jerry Thomas claims its start as 1847, naming it after himself and “two small white mice” he kept as pets named Tom and Jerry.
But, it seems this egg based brandy cocktail recipe has been written down in America since the 1820s. It is sometimes credited to English author Pierce Egan, who write a play of the name of “Tom & Jerry” in 1821. but no recipe records of the same.
So, we can assume it is a descendant of Eggnog, and it was created sometime in the early 19th century, most likely in New England.
It can be a pain in the butt to make, but we think well worth it. Tom and Jerry dedicated bowls (and glasses) were filled with batter each holiday season around the US until the popularity seemed to die down around the turn of the 20th century. The recipe has been reworked by bartenders, as well as us. We have lightened the classic recipe that used to be served in Jay’s family, to make it not as heavy and rich. But, it’s still creamy and decadent.
The name Tom & Jerry can invoke the memory from the cartoon cat and mouse, too.
Tom & Jerry Drink
The Tom and Jerry recipe is a warm sweet cocktail that can be spiked with brandy and/or rum, and topped with an aromatic burst of nutmeg. It was likely inspired by a boozy version of English eggnog that is served around the Holidays. This warm drink full of spices is perfect sipping on a cold winter’s night. The Tom and Jerry quickly gained favor at saloons and bars with drinkers who wanted a warming tipple.
In our family, the Tom & Jerry was one of Jay’s grandparents favorite holiday drinks (they even had the little white china mugs that said Tom and Jerry on them)! (We have a set now, too!) The Grandparents were always the ones who made the batter, and family gatherings at their house meant that at some point Tom and Jerry’s would be served for all (virgin drinks for the kids of course!).
Butter and vanilla can be modern additions, but the base remains the same: frothy and spiced egg batter mixed into rum and brandy, and mixed with warm milk and nutmeg.
How do you Make the Tom and Jerry Mix from Scratch?
When we started hosting family gatherings, we decided that we needed to keep up this tradition and serve mugs of Tom and Jerry to our family.
We think the Tom & Jerry is a classic winter cocktail that every cocktail lover should try at some point. It is a little labor intensive, and isn’t the easiest drink to make, but it is worth doing. It’s a pretty old-fashioned drink, but it’s still a popular tipple around the holidays, particularly in the Midwest.
We could have used the recipe that the grandparents used. But, as is our typical path when looking at drinks for the blog, we do a little research in finding the right recipe. While we have always enjoyed the Tom and Jerry’s served at family gatherings, one commonly heard complaint was that the drink was way too sweet.
We were looking in our copy of the Bar-Tender’s Guide and the original recipe sounded delicious. Likewise, it was definitely not nearly as sweet. Since we are big on trying out the classic cocktails, we decided to serve our version of the original recipe this year. We did a taste test at our Thanksgiving gathering versus the sweet recipe that had been served for many years.
How to Make a Tom and Jerry Drink
First, making the batter, you separate egg yolks and egg whites.The whites of the eggs need to be beaten into stiff peaks. This stiff froth can be set aside until the yolks are ready to go.
Add in some warm spices to the yolks and “fold in the cheese” by folding the yolk mixture into the egg whites. These together will make a mixture with the consistency of a light batter. After this you combine warm milk with warm water, topped with the spiced batter, and you will be rewarded with a creamy drink that is perfect with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. The taste can be somewhat like eggnog but with even more spices.
The original recipe does call for a in depth process to make the batter. But, you won’t regret the work when you are sipping your hot mug of boozy foam.
One note is to make sure to stir constantly while adding the hot milk and water or the batter will curdle. Per mug you only really need a tablespoonful of the above mixture. But, you can always add more of the old-time drink into your Tom and Jerry mugs and we won’t say a word. Or, more alcohol either. 😉
Tom & Jerry Ingredients
You might be asking yourself, what is in a Tom and Jerry drink? There aren’t a large amount of ingredients, it just takes time to make this favorite holiday drink.
- Brandy or Rum – or both. Honestly, use what you like. Dark rum, gold rum, spiced rum are all great options. Brandy can be switched up with cognac, apple brandy or pear brandy. Whatever flavors you like! Just use good quality ingredients, as they will be prominent in the drink.
- Vanilla Extract – a modern addition, but we love the vanilla flavor with the spices.
- Cloves, Cinnamon and Nutmeg – all necessary spices to make this Tom & Jerry drink the best it can be. This makes for a great warm brandy cocktail recipe! Get some fresh spices here: Cloves, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.
- Eggs – make sure they are fresh and separate the yolks and whites in a separate bowl each. Use either a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat them separately before combining them in the batter.
- Powdered Sugar – this is the sweetener we use for the cocktail. Confectioner’s sugar mixes in the easiest, and you need less than granulated sugar.
- Milk – 1% or 2% work great. We don’t recommend skim because it won’t be creamy. Also, feel free to add hot water to this too for a larger less creamy drink, this is what we do, and it makes it slightly less rich.
Also, we should mention the elephant in the room. Yes, this drink contains raw eggs. If you feel you can’t do raw eggs, you can buy pasteurized in the shell eggs.
Make a big batch of the Tom & Jerry cocktail recipe batter, and it’s perfect for a party!
What is the Difference Between Eggnog and a Tom & Jerry?
While this drink is often compared to eggnog, it is different. The main difference is that a Tom & Jerry is served warm, and the drink is built in the serving mug. Eggnog, on the other hand, is usually cold and already mixed and ready to drink. Eggnog is also not necessarily an alcoholic beverage.
Today most store bought eggnog is made with cooked eggs and heavy cream. The resulting liquid is a thick custard. It’s a heavy drink, and a Tom and Jerry with warm milk is lighter with a similar flavor.
However, the Tom & Jerry is a fantastic alternative to eggnog, and many drinkers prefer it because it is more of a warm milk punch and has less of an egg flavor. It can be made virgin just with the batter and warm milk if wanted.
We think this style of Tom and Jerry is a more latte or cappuccino than heavy eggnog. The top has a nice foam like a coffee.
You may find that putting together the Tom & Jerry is kind of like making a hot buttered rum. It begins with mixing the batter, which can be refrigerated or frozen until it’s time to make a drink. The batter makes for about 25 drinks. It’s a great way to have a tasty hot cocktail ready for the holidays.
Try another warm cocktail, our Toasted Cream Irish Coffee!
Best Brandy for a Tom & Jerry
For this Tom & Jerry cocktail, we think there are some great brandy options. There are many different kinds of brandy: flavored brandies like apple or pear, VS/VSOP brandies, cognac or Armagnac. All good choices and just use what you would like, and what is available at your local liquor stores.
Tips & Tricks
- Alcohols – if you don’t want to use rum and brandy, or 1 of each, other great options would be a rich cognac or Armagnac, bourbon, or spiced rum. Make sure to measure using a jigger! Also, any rum will do, we prefer a Jamaican rum, or an aged rum.
- Serving – if you have a Tom & Jerry ceramic punch bowl and cups, use them, as this traditional holiday drink is perfect served in the large bowls! If not, glass mugs and a mixing bowl work great! Keep your cocktails warm by filling mugs with hot water before getting ready to serve the Tom & Jerry. The warmed mug will warm your hands and keep the drink warm. And, always grate a little nutmeg or cinnamon on top, though!
- Batter – you can prep this a couple days in advance. Just keep in airtight container in the fridge. You can freeze it as well. Just know some of the frothiness will be gone from beating the egg whites.
- Big Batch – like we said above, this recipe served as a big batch of the Tom and Jerry is great for a large group. The amount the Tom and Jerry batter recipe makes is already perfect for a crowd, which is why it’s perfect for Christmas time. You can look for Tom and Jerry punch bowls at thrift stores, or online at Happy Hour Vintage! Make your own Christmas tradition by making this recipe!
If You Are Looking for More Holiday Recipes, Try These!
- Mini Berry Bites
- Rosemary’s Pear
- Holiday Berry Sparkler
- Caramel Green Apple
- Pine Old Fashioned
- Salted Butterscotch Bourbon Eggnog
- Cranberry Orange Shrub
- Holiday Honey Spiced Punch
- Gingersnap Cocktail
- Holiday Ginger Whiskey Flip
- Sugared Cranberries
- Mistletoe Martini
- Christmas Old Fashioned
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and tag #gastronomcocktails so we can see all the wonderful recipes YOU recreate from this site!
You can also subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a delicious recipe again!
Like this recipe? Try these below, too!
Other Warm Holiday Cocktails
- Peppermint Schnapps Hot Chocolate
- Blizzard Cocktail
- Non Alcoholic Mulled Wine
- Hot Gin Cocktail
A family favorite, this Tom and Jerry drink is perfect for chilly winter nights, and to be enjoyed with a crowd.
Tom & Jerry Cocktail
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch each of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg
- brandy, rum or a combination of both
- hot milk, (if serving in a punch bowl, about 3 cups)
- hot water, (if serving in a punch bowl, about 1 cup)
Separate eggs. Whites and yolks in different bowls.
Whip whites in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer.
When thickened slightly, add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1 spoonful at a time. Continue whipping whites until stiff peaks form.
Mix yolks and remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
When whites are stiffened, add yolk mix to whites and fold to combine. Add in vanilla extract.
When making cocktails, add batter to cup, around 1/4 cup, and then add brandy and rum (1.50 oz total).
We used 1 oz brandy and .50 oz rum, but you can use whatever combination you like the best. Add at least 4 oz hot milk, then top off mug with hot water if desired.
You can add as much milk as you like, more makes it creamier.
If serving from a punch bowl, add all of the milk and water and top with batter. Get a good ladle or 2 full of liquid and batter for each mug.
Add grated nutmeg on top for a garnish.
Stir slightly to combine.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 105Total Fat: 2.2gSaturated Fat: 0.7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 31mgCarbohydrates: 10.2gFiber: 0gSugar: 10.1gProtein: 0g
Interested in stocking your own home bar? Make sure to see our favorites at our Amazon Store!
If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe for new (and of course free) recipes by entering your email address on the side bar (and get all the recipes delivered to your inbox when we post), so you don’t miss out on a thing. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Gastronomblog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com