Tom and Jerry

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 A Tom and Jerry is a classic cocktail, which in many cases is forgotten, but quite often seen on the bar menus of many classic cocktail bars or older restaurants, especially during the winter time.


Born of rum and brandy, egg yolk and egg white, sugar and hot water, the drink is one which befits the winter months.  Served warm, the texture is like that of a chiffon cake, soft and velvety, with a lot of flavor in both the creamy foam and the liquid itself.

The recipes for the batter, which makes for an easier time producing the drink overall, relies upon general guidelines of whipping the eggs, but there are quite a different amount of recipes for the batter itself.  The variations include how to whip the eggs, the inclusion or volume of sugar, and whether the spirit is included into the whipped batter.

Most recipes call for beating the egg separately, however, some of the older recipes, which are more loose, and thus probably rely upon learned experience to know what the texture should be like, rely on guidelines of texture when mixing the egg batter.  For instance, Crockett describes beating six eggs well, adding powdered sugar until very thick, and working out the lumps (Crockett 89).  This batter is then poured into the mug at a volume of one half tablespoon, and then topped up with brandy, Jamaican rum, and hot water, finished with some nutmeg (which would make this very similar to a sling, although Crockett refers to the Tom and Jerry as a hot potation).

In another case calling for the batter, the volume is doubled to a dozen eggs, and the rum is mixed directly into the batter, stirred to thicken (Meier 67).  Meier’s recipe adds allspice and uses hot milk instead of water, which does a lot to add to the richness of the drink, as well as the entire body.  The use of rum in the recipe gives it a completely different color, since the alcohol is bonded and mixed directly into the foam, and the foam does not seperate as it might when just topping a beverage.  This also makes for a more loose body, but suffice to say, that whipping the eggs separately, even though Meier does not call for such a thing, helps increase the body of the foam.

Kappeler gives a different recipe, which is fascinating to behold since in many ways it is more similar to the classic version than any other.  Keppeler calls for whipping the yolks and the whites sperately, creating a meringue with the white, and adding the two together as well as bicarbonate of soda; in which case, the rum is added after the fact, alongside teh brandy and hot water or milk (Kappeler 108).  The fact that the rum is left out indicates that Keppeler is going for more of a meringue consistency than the other recipes might call for.

The oldest recipe given for the Tom and Jerry, in Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide, provides a recipe for the batter in which the egg portions are whipped separately, combined together with an immensely small volume of rum, and calls for the use of bicarbonate of soda to prevent the sugar from settling at the bottom of the drink.  In his recipe, there is no to little rum however, seeing as how the batter is rationed out, and the Tom and Jerry calls for the use of brandy specifically, giving a note as to using the rum in equal proportions to the brandy; yet if the rum should be ignored in that case, the only flavor of the rum is that in the batter (Thomas 51-52).  The other name, given by Jerry Thomas is the Copenhagen.

The version given by Embury is the strangest of them all.   For the batter, he has the addition of spices and rum, similar to the Meier or Thomas recipes, but uses a lot less sugar than most of the other recipes utilize, in order to decrease the overall sweetness of the drink (Embury 336).  The drink is then filled with bourbon, topped up with milk, and cognac is floated on top.  The use of bourbon is surely a strange change from that of the other recipes.

My recommendation for this classic drink is to make it via the batter, but if you want to make it a la minute, in which case you will end up with a richer and heavier foam, as well as more volume of it in proportion to the overall potation, you should whip the parts of the egg separately, combining the alcohol into the yolk portion, and slowly adding that portion back into the meringue.  This then is added to a glass, and finished as appropriate.  This is most similar to the version provided by Craddock, since his recipe is individually portioned, but his does not include the rum mixed with the egg batter.

Tom and Jerry:

1 egg
1 ounce Jamaican rum
1 ounce brandy
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

Beat the egg white and yolk separately, mixing the rum with the yolk so that it runs thin, and the sugar with the white, so that it stiffens into a peak.  Combine the mixture into a batter, and pour into a glass.  Add in the Brandy, and top up with hot water or milk.  Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.