In Praise of the Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry at the Domino Bar WausauA longtime holiday drink favorite of mine is the Tom and Jerry. This drink consists of a frothy meringue that floats in a mug of hot water, rum and brandy. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg on the top and you have the perfect holiday drink, warming the heart and the body at the same time.

The Tom and Jerry is a uniquely American drink, tracing it’s roots to the early 19th century. The celebrity bartender Jerry Thomas popularized the drink in 1862 by serving it at his San Francisco and St. Louis bars and publishing the recipe in his 1862 bartender’s guide. The drink fell out of favor by the early 20th century, but you can find is resurrected every holiday season in bars, taverns and homes in the upper midwest where it is as much of a holiday tradition as the Christmas Tree itself.

Of  course you an go to your local grocery store in Wisconsin or Minnesota and pick up a tub of Tom and Jerry mix. The frozen batter appears around Thanksgiving time and it always in stock through the new year. The premade batter is ok, but the addition of corn syrup and emulsifiers to prevent freezer burn made the batter thick and not as creamy as fresh made.

Tom and Jerry Station at the Domino Bar Wausau WIFor the best local Tom and Jerry’s in the area, you really need to take a trip to The Domino Bar on Wausau’s east side. Located at 740 Washington St, the Domino has been serving Tom and Jerry’s for Christmas longer than anyone will care to remember. Their secret recipe is rich and creamy with the subtle hint of allspice and clove in the batter and rum and brandy afternote in each sip. The Domino Bar really knows how to make the Tom and Jerry. During the holiday season they keep a Tom and Jerry station at the corner of the bar with a mini fridge full of batter and kettles of hot water steaming away. For a bar to dedicate this much real estate to one drink, you know they are serious abou their Tom and Jerrys. Order a Tom and Jerry and the hot drink will be sitting in front of you in 60 seconds or less.

To really understand the Tom and Jerry, you need to take a look at the recipe. Consisting of eggs, sugar and spices, the Tom and Jerry is a rich, sweet, calorie laden drink. The Tom and Jerry batter is made by taking egg whites and whipping them into a meringue. Next creamed egg yolks, sugar and spices are folded into the meringue. The drink itself consists of a mug filled one third full of batter, a jigger each of rum and brandy, and topped off with hot water. Nutmeg garnish on top finishes the drink. The drink is rich, but the alcohol does wonders to cut the cloying sweetness. Still at that, one is enough for me.

Enjoy and drink in good health.

Tom and Jerry Batter (makes 4)

3 Eggs, divided
3 tablespoons superfine or powdered sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tap cloves

Separate eggs. Beat yolks until creamy and add sugar and spices. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff. Fold yolk mixture into the egg whites. Refrigerate (keeps up to 3 days).

To make a Tom and Jerry, fill mug 1/3 full of batter, add 1 jigger of rum and 1 jigger of brandy. Top off with boiling water. Garnish with ground nutmeg.

 

 

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