Two years ago I found a vintage Hazel Atlas Tom And Jerry set at a local antique mall for a really good price. Of course, I snatched it up.
I got all excited about it and shared it on Instagram and chatted about it on Facebook then promptly forgot about it. Months went by and another Christmas season came and went and I still hadn't used my lovely drink set yet.
Until last weekend.
And Good Golly, am I ever regretting not trying this bit of holiday magic before now!
Let's just say it's similar to a warm sugar cookie melting effortlessly in your mouth while unicorns singing Christmas carols dance around your head.
If you're not familiar with the Tom And Jerry drink, it was really popular way back when and a staple of Christmas gatherings. So popular they produced special punch bowls and mugs just for that one drink. And then poof, sometime around the 1960's no one wanted to drink the stuff anymore.
People's tastes had changed and the once iconic holiday drink had fallen onto hard times, but with the recent interest in classic cocktails and all things retro it is now making a comeback
How To Make Tom And Jerrys
Tom And Jerry Drink
Tom And Jerry Batter Ingredients
- 12 Eggs (separated)
- 1 teaspoon Cream Of Tartar
- 2 lbs Granulated Sugar (equivalent to 4 ½ cups)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 stick Butter (softened)
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 2 oz Rum
For The Drink
- 1 heaping tablespoon Tom & Jerry Drink Batter
- 1 oz Rum
- 4 oz Hot Milk or Hot Water*
- Garnish w/ Ground Nutmeg
How To Make Tom And Jerry Batter
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites and put in two separate bowls.
- Add cream of tartar to the bowl of egg whites and beat until stiff peaks have formed.
- In the other bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar and stick of butter until thickened, then add the remaining ingredients of vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and rum.
- Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the mixture.
- Cover and store your batter in the refrigerator until it is time to make the drinks. Preferably within a few hours.
Making The Drinks
- Gently heat milk in a saucepan.
- Warm your mug by rinsing it with very hot water.
- To each cup add 1 heaping tablespoon of Tom And Jerry batter, 1 oz of rum and 4 oz of hot milk (hot water can be substituted).
- Stir until foamy.
- Garnish with ground nutmeg.
Tips To Whip Your Eggs To Stiff Peaks
- Cold eggs separate easier. Room temperature eggs whip to a peak easier.
- Make sure your mixer or whisk is spotlessly clean and perfectly dry along with your mixing bowl.
- Speaking of whisks, skip them. It takes quite a while to whisk eggs by hand, so better off using an electric mixer if at all possible.
- A copper, stainless steel or glass bowl works best. Plastic bowls should be avoided since they can hold onto invisible greases that will wreak havoc on your whites.
- Do not try to whip eggs on rainy or humid days. Too much humidity in the air will affect the process and will make you cry. Been there, done that and I now avoid rainy days like the plague.
Egg Warning: Yes, this drink is made with raw eggs. The batter should be refrigerated when not in use and consumed the same day. It is not recommended that pregnant women, young children, the infirm or the elderly consume raw eggs. I am in no way an expert on food safety though, so if you have concerns about using raw eggs, you may want to find a raw egg alternative at your local grocery store (you can find an article on Pasteurized Eggs 101 HERE).
Tom And Jerry Drink vs Eggnog
Some might confuse this drink with Eggnog.
They are somewhat similar, but a Tom And Jerry is served warm and Eggnog is served cold. The consistency of the drinks varies also with Eggnog being a thicker heavier drink.
And lastly, Eggnog is all mixed up and ladled out of a big self-service bowl (or God forbid, a milk carton) whereas Tom And Jerry batter is premade, but the drinks are mixed one by one as they are needed.
Where Did The Name Come From?
It's debatable who created this classic holiday cocktail.
Some say Jerry Thomas, a bartender in New York who was author to one of the first bartenders guides, concocted the drink back in 1847. So the name Tom And Jerry would be a combination of his last and first name.
The other theory is Pierce Egan, an English journalist and writer, created and named the drink after characters in his 1820's novel called "Life In London, Or The Day And Night Scenes Of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. And His Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom". Could there be a longer title for a book?
It definitely was not named after the cat and mouse cartoon duo. That I do know!
Tom And Jerry Drink Bowl Sets
Popular in the 1940's, there were quite a few varieties of the bowl sets made.
The ones you will see most often were made by Hazel Atlas. They were white milk glass featuring a holiday scene in red and green and normally emblazoned with the drink name on both the bowl and cups.
Homer Laughlin made some "fancier" cream-colored ceramic bowl sets that were gold-rimmed with matching lettering. No scenes, just the words Tom And Jerry.
Just this year I purchased this beauty at a thrift store for $4.99.
It only had 4 cups with it and the gold lettering on the bowl is scratched in a few places, but for the cost coupled with my love for these old bowl sets, it had to come home with me.
Hall China had a similar set, but with black bowls with gold lettering. A much more serious and formal look.
Anchor Hocking's Fire King had some iridescent cups and bowls in their Peach Lustre line (which was really more of a shiny rose gold than a true peach, if you ask me). It's sort of an odd color for a Christmas drink set, but it's one that collectors are always on the lookout for.
I do have to say, I think the classic red and green on white milk glass produced by Hazel Atlas ones are my favorites! Some say they are a little too kitschy. In my book there is never too much kitschiness for Christmas!
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Where To Find Vintage Tom And Jerry Punch Bowl Sets
Etsy or Ebay are your best bets. Sure you can run across one at the thrift store or estate sale once in a blue moon, but full sets are becoming more rare to find.
Do You Have To Have A Fancy Matching Drink Set?
Absolutely not. It does make it a bit more festive and nostalgic, but using a glass punch set (COMMONLY found at thrift stores, BTW), Santa mugs or even regular old coffee mugs will work just as well. Heck, make them in a paper cup if you want.
How To Make A Virgin Version
Well, this is pretty easy. If serving this to kiddos and non-drinkers, just skip the rum in the batter altogether and then when mixing the drinks in your glasses, skip the rum there also. It is still an awesome, festive and tasty drink without the rum.
Check out the web story version of this article HERE.
Have you ever had one of these magical holiday drinks? Were there any unicorns involved?