The holidays mean it’s time for eggnog and its variation, the Tom and Jerry cocktail. The difference: The Tom and Jerry is served warm and, with whipped egg whites, it’s a frothier, more luxurious drink.
Made with eggs, dairy, sugar and booze, eggnog gained popularity in the 18th century as eggs and milk became more widely available. Even George Washington had his own boozy recipe that calls for a half pint each of whiskey, brandy, rum and sherry, in addition to cream, milk, eggs and sugar — no word how many this recipe serves. Modern versions call for less alcohol and include baking spices.
The Tom and Jerry first made an appearance in the 1820s, named after the main characters in the book “Life in London,” by British author Pierce Egan. It hit a peak in the mid-20th century, with parties focused around the drink, served in gold-rimmed ceramic mugs.
Some drinkers shy away from eggnog and the Tom and Jerry since there’s raw egg in both (despite salmonella scares having been greatly reduced and raw egg use in pisco sours, steak tartare, aioli and hollandaise). Alcohol neutralizes risk, but be sure to buy exceptionally fresh eggs that have been stored in a refrigerator below 41 degrees.
THE TOM AND JERRY
(By drinks expert Robert Simonson)
For the batter
6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 pound sugar
1 ounce añejo rum
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 dashes Angostura bitters
For each drink
6 ounces milk
1 ounce añejo rum
1 ounce V.S. Cognac
1. Make the batter: By hand or with a mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until they are thin. While beating, gradually add sugar, rum, vanilla, spices and bitters.
2. Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture so as not to deflate whites. If not using immediately, refrigerate batter.
3. Make the drink: Bring milk to boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, warm a coffee mug (roughly 10 ounces) in the oven for 5 minutes on low heat.
4. Pour in 2 ounces batter. Add 1 ounce rum and 1 ounce Cognac. Fill with boiling milk, stirring briskly with a whisk as you pour, so batter and milk are well mixed. Garnish with nutmeg. Makes 1 drink, with batter for 6 drinks.