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The Traditional Tom & Jerry

My cousin Helen David opened the Brass Rail Bar in Port Huron, MI, in 1937, and they’ve been making Tom & Jerrys with her recipe ever since! Maroun Abou-Ghanem, Helen’s cousin and the bar’s current owner, told me that the key was to make a fresh egg batter to which rum, brandy and hot water are added, and the whole thing is topped with fresh grated nutmeg.  
“It’s a holiday specialty we start serving just prior to Thanksgiving and finish on New Year’s Day; we sell thousands of them!” he said.
It turns out that the grandfather of American bartending, “Professor” Jerry Thomas, is credited with developing the Tom & Jerry. According to his 1862 publication, The Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks, this seasonal drink was not to be offered until after the first snowfall. 
As wonderful a story that is, it seems the drink was actually named for the characters in Pierce Egan’s 1821 book, Life in London, which chronicles the after-hours roving antics of “Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom.” Their relentless pursuit of living the high life, frequently with the aid of an alcoholic beverage, gave birth to the slang, “Tom and Jerrying.” 
It is said that Egan took a recipe, considered a twist on the traditional eggnog, and named it the “Tom and Jerry” in order to publicize his book. 
Course Drinks


  • 1 ladle of batter
  • 1 oz. Appleton Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz. Cognac


  • In a pre-heated mug, add 1 heaping ladle of batter.
  • Then add rum and Cognac.
  • Top with hot water and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.
  • Serve with a paddle or spoon.


For egg batter:
  • 8 Jumbo eggs
  • 1 ½ cups
  • Powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. Cream of tartar
  • Freshly grated nutmeg Hot water
Separate egg whites and yolks. In a large mixer, beat yolks until thick, transfer to another bowl. Clean mixer and add the egg whites and cream of tartar, beat until stiff. Add powdered sugar and fold in yolks. Mix until batter is light and fluffy.
Tony Abou Ganim is the principal of Las Vegas-based consultancy The Modern Mixologist. This is from a story he wrote about the Brass Rail Bar, the proprietor—his cousin Helen David—and her Tom & Jerry recipe.