The Tom and Jerry is a beloved holiday cocktail in these parts. And I knew nothing about it until just a few years ago.
The drink is basically a kind of boozy eggnog, with extra spices, served hot. It’s really not the kind of drink you can have more than one of–at least I can’t, because a well-made T&J is really rich and decadent and sweet. Drinking one feels like dessert before the entree arrives. At least, that’s what it felt like to me, because I ordered one first when we went to dinner the other night. We were at a place called, believe it or not, The Place. It’s in the city of Buffalo, and the restaurant was a delight.
The Tom and Jerry is an old-school drink. Restaurants that serve it can’t just dish it up in any old mug! You apparently need a white mug with “Tom and Jerry” on it, and some places have their own special sets that they’ve used for years and years. They’ll actually mix up a large bowl of it and dish it up into matching mugs. Here’s a representative example of a Tom and Jerry punchbowl and mug set:
That’s from an eBay auction. No, I did not bid! I wouldn’t need something that large, and in any case, I’d be the only one drinking the T&Js if I were to make them at home. The Wife and The Kid are, ahem, unenthusiastic about the prospect of drinks where eggs are a major ingredient.
And besides, T&Js aren’t exactly a quick drink to make, either. You have to make the batter first, and then some of the batter is put in the mug with booze and hot water. Here’s a typical recipe. Note the ingredients and the steps involved: separate a dozen eggs! Whip the egg whites! Fold with spices and…yeah, I’m not doing all of that. Not for just myself, anyway. I’ve read that you can buy pre-mixed T&J batter in some places, but I’ve never looked for it.
No, for my own home hot rum drink enjoyment, I’ll stick with Hot Buttered Rum (which I will be mixing up probably this weekend). I sure do like a Tom and Jerry, though. And I miss the place I first tried one: a restaurant and bar in an old farmhouse in Concord, NY, called Mary’s Fireside Inn. This wonderful place did not survive the pandemic, sadly (and a debilitating fire probably was even more damaging in that regard). We loved going down there, especially at Christmastime…and not just for the Tom and Jerry’s.