In our area here in Upstate New York there is nothing that marks the start of the holiday season more than the emergence of the famed Tom and Jerry bowl! If you have no idea what that means, I’m about to fill you in. If you’re already familiar with the classic Tom and Jerry recipe, you’re probably already squealing with joy. Because that’s what happens as we stomp off our snowy boots and make our way inside to sip that first Tom and Jerry of the season. While my favorite version is served up at The Crystal, you will find them in bars and restaurants all over the region. They are only served from Thanksgiving through New Year’s day and then they’re gone for another year. I think that’s absolutely part of their magic, because they conjure up the joy and cheer of the season.
In short, the Tom and Jerry is a thick boozy drink made with a batter and served hot in a mug. While made with eggs and loads of spices, it’s really nothing like egg nog, which is a common question. (That said, we have a killer egg nog recipe if that’s what you’re after!) Many thanks to my mom for helping me with this post. We spent a lot of time working on this recipe to make sure our method was precise so you can easily recreate it at home. Now, let’s make our batter and get to sipping!
You’ll see when reading the recipe below that you add the prepared batter to a warmed mug. Next comes the booze and everything is finished off with hot water and nutmeg. It’s important to note that you do not mix the drink before serving! As you add the booze and hot water, the batter will rise to the top and you’ll have a drink that’s kind of separated into layers. This is exactly what you want.
Some people, like me, like to have a couple of little spoonfuls of the batter first. Then I take a few sips. As I make my way down the mug, I take my spoon and start mixing the batter into the rum, brandy and water mixture. Other people like to mix their drink thoroughly before drinking. It’s totally a personal preference, which is why I advise not mixing before you serve them up.
While utterly delicious, the tradition behind the Tom and Jerry is really what makes people go crazy about them. They’re sweet, rich and definitely guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter’s night. (Hot booze will do that to you!) This isn’t really a drink you make just one or two of, it’s more of a group thing, which is what makes it perfect for holiday gatherings.
As you can probably tell, I’m a serious fan. Feel free to switch up the spirits, too! Some places make them with just rum, others with cognac and I’ve even heard of making them with bourbon. Do whatever you prefer, but I always recommend a high quality liquor.
Many thanks again to my mom for helping me craft this post! We spent a long time in the kitchen perfecting this recipe so it’s as close as can be to our favorite Tom and Jerry. For anyone who is local, our batter is still not quite like it is at The Crystal, but my mom, stepfather and I all agree this is our favorite Tom and Jerry recipe after theirs. So there’s that! I’ll take second place when it comes to this one.
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup of confectioner's sugar (or super fine sugar)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Large pinch of cloves
- Large pinch of cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ oz dark spiced rum (I use Kraken)
- ½ oz brandy (I use Christian Brothers)
- Hot water
- Begin by separating your eggs, placing the whites and yolks in separate clean, dry mixing bowls.
- NOTE: It's important to make sure the bowl containing the whites in particular is very clean and completely dry. Also, you need to make sure you don't have even a speck of yolk in with the whites or it will affect the consistency of the batter, which is key to making this drink really special.
- In a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), set to whipping the egg whites. We want them to end up very very thick, not just frothy.
- Once they've thickened up a bit, begin adding ½ cup of the confectioner's sugar, a spoonful at a time. Continue whipping until very stiff peaks form. You want the whites to be so thick that they wouldn't dump out of the bowl if you turned it upside down. This might take as long as 10 minutes, depending on your mixer, etc. Just keep whipping!
- In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the remaining confectioner's sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Whisk to combine well.
- When your whites are super stiff, add the yolk mixture to the whites and fold gently to combine. Do not whisk this mixture and do not beat it or stir it with any kind of vigor. It's meant to be really thick, at least as thick as cake batter, and over mixing or whisking will make it thin and runny.
- Each drink is prepared individually when you're ready to serve.
- Start by warming your mugs by filling them with hot water and allowing it to set for 30 seconds or so. Then dump out the water and spoon a generous amount of batter into each mug.
- For smaller mugs like mine shown here, about two tablespoons is appropriate. T
- Then add your rum and brandy.
- Finally, pour hot water over top until the mug is full.
- Add a bit of freshly grated nutmeg on top and serve with a little spoon or an ice cream stick.
[Photos + recipe by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]