In a Batter Place: All About the Tom and Jerry Cocktail


Photograph by Kang Kim. Styling by Rowena Day/Ennis.

Not to imply there’s anything wrong with good old, reliable eggnog, but this holiday season, it’s all about the Tom and Jerry, a classic winter warmer that might best be described as the chilly, cream-laden beverage’s frothy, amped-up cousin.

As the story goes, the batter-based concoction was devised in the mid-1800s at a St. Louis hotel, and it’s been a popular cold-weather sipper in the Midwest ever since—popular enough, in fact, to warrant its own style of ceramic punch-bowl set. Here in Boston, revivalist cocktail pros at spots like 80 Thoreau, the Sinclair, and Steel & Rye have been sleuthing out these vintage serving sets, and will be whipping up batches of the airy, luscious libation to spoon into them.

“Whip” is no mere turn of phrase here, as the recipe reads like an intricate dessert. Unlike the mix-and-chill protocol of eggnog, making a Tom and Jerry requires beating egg whites with cream of tartar, adding sugar to the yolks, and folding them together with plenty of rum and brandy. The mixture gets ladled into a mug with even more liquor, then warmed up with hot milk or water.

For bartenders committed to the recipe, the end justifies the laborious means. Says Steel & Rye’s Ted Gallagher: “It’s like winter in a glass.”