It's Tom & Jerry Time

The first time I was introduced to a Tom & Jerry was at one of Chicago’s hidden treasures, Miller’s Pub. Located under the “EL” line on the edges of the loop, Miller’s is as old school Chicago as one gets; with a bar full of patrons by 11 am and a kitchen that serves full steak dinners till 2am, the large dinning room and bar are always inviting and comfortable to anyone who may wander in. Years ago, around the holiday season, we had seen signs announcing that Tom & Jerrys were back and after inquiring with our server we ordered around. The fluffy “pillow” of warm spices with an underlying punch of rum and brandy was nothing short of amazing. Somewhere between an egg nog, a hot buttered rum, and a mug of warm milk, this was unlike anything I had ever tasted, although its holiday spices were all too familiar. With a limit availability, only Thanksgiving Through New Years, the drink became even more special, it became a tradition.

It would be years before I attempted to make my own and another five or so before I even thought of putting one on a menu at a busy bar. But with some refining, I have found that the below recipe works well for behind the bar as well at home.

But the real trick is serving them in vintage Tom & Jerry mugs ladled from the accompanying punch bowl. These sets are surprisingly easy to find at great prices on Etsy and Ebay, with many of them having been made in post WWII “occupied” Japan to comfort the US Servicemen stationed there.

Tom & Jerry

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Yield: This recipe will yield about 2 quarts of batter or enough for about 24 servings

Ingredients Needed:

12 eggs, separated (room temp)

1 cup powdered sugar, divided in half

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon cream of tarter, separated in half

2 pinches Kosher Salt

whole Nutmeg

Tools Needed:

2 Mixing Bowls

Spatula or large mixing spoon

Whisk or electric hand mixer

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Step 1

Let the eggs sit until they reach room temp. Then separate the eggs into two mixing bowls.

Step 2: Yolks

Beat the yolk with a spatula or mixing spoon until watery, then slowly incorporate the following:

½ cup powdered sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cream of tarter

1 pinch salt

Mix until well incorporated

Step 3: White

To the egg whites add:

¼ teaspoon cream of tarter

1 pinch salt

Beat until stiff peaks start to form, then slowly add ½ cup powdered sugar and beat some more.

Step 4: Combine

Slowly spoon egg whites into the batter and stir to incorporate.

5. Preparing for Service

First and foremost, this batter is only good for day-of. It can be made earlier in the day until needed, but the longer it sits, the more it will separate.

Some decisions need to be made before serving a Tom & Jerry.

1. Base Spirit

First you need to decide on your base spirit of choice. Rum, Cognac, or a combination of both is great, but within those there are several options so play around with rums and brandies.

I like to pre-mix a combination of

1 Part (1/4 oz) Black Strap or High Ester Jamaican Rum

2 Parts (1/2 oz) Aromatic Aged "Spanish" style Rum (Botron Reserva, Denizen 8, Ten to One Dark)

2 Parts (1/2 oz) Cognac

Total Pour per cocktail is 1.25 oz.

2. Water or Milk

Secondly, do you want to add hot milk or hot water to the drink? As you would imagine, water would create a lighter (if that is the word to use for a Tom and Jerry) and milk a richer, thicker drink. I prefer milk but only if making all the drinks at once. It is difficult to keep milk warm over a long period of time, or to keep reheating it, and so for a more practical use, especially behind a bar, I often use water.

Behind the bar, use an electric heating kettle or an air-pot.

3. Serving

Finally, how will you serve the Tom & Jerry? Traditional serving cups and bowls are abundant on the internet, especially through Ebay and Etsy.

For a home party, definitely make the small investment in the bowl and place the batter in there.

For the bar, I still use the cups but place the batter in squeeze bottles with the nozzle well trimmed back.

6. To Serve

1. Fill the mug 1/3 of the way with batter (this can vary on personal preference, and whether you are using water or milk will make a difference as well.) but it will be about 2.5 to 3 ounces.

2. Add 1.25 oz of base spirit to a mug. Remember that hot drinks exaggerate the “feel” of alcohol on the nose and palate, so it is critical to not add too much alcohol or the drink will feel extremely boozy and take a way from the drinker’s experience.

3. Fill with hot water or milk, stir.

4. Grate nutmeg across the top.

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