The Drink for the Holidays

The holidays are the time of year for Tom and Jerry to make their annual appearance. Not the cartoon cat and mouse, but the creamy, brandy-based holiday drink that has made itself a staple, from the United Kingdom to Ohio, for more than 125 years.

Places as widespread as the Carlyle hotel in New York, and Karl Ratzsch’s Restaurant on Mason Street in Milwaukee still serve up a wonderful Tom and Jerry in traditional bowl and mug sets. In fact, the drink was so popular at times that Tom and Jerry serving sets were sold everywhere during the holidays.

Traditionally, Tom and Jerry’s are made from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, as part of many families’ traditions – especially at home with Tom & Jerry’s Automotive staff (don’t worry – we always have a designated driver.)
What’s really interesting is that most people don’t know for certain where T and Js originated. But, we know the truth!

One story has Pierce Egan, an Englishman and author of the 1821 nightlife guide “Life in London; OR, another story is “The Day and Night Scenes” of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom,” both introduced a version of eggnog called the “Tom and Jerry” to help publicize a book back in the day. Egan’s book and the eggnog twist were reportedly so popular that English pubs were nicknamed “Tom and Jerries” for a short time.

Nice story, but actually, the REAL Tom and Jerry was invented by Professor Jerry Thomas, another Brit and author of the first known bartender’s cocktail guide, “The Bartender’s Companion and The Bon Vivant’s Companion,” published in 1862.

Thomas was the first celebrity bartender, who toured large cities in the United States and Europe, doing stage demonstrations of his drink-pouring skills. According to legend, Thomas, who was a VERY highly-paid bartender at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in the 1860s, also created the “Blue Blazer,” arguably the first martini.

But it’s the “Tom and Jerry” that may have garnered him the most fame. The funny thing is, most people couldn’t begin to tell you why it became a holiday tradition. We can tell you — Thomas, the 19th-century celebrity bartender, was just reluctant to offer the drink “until after the season’s first snow” because of its “warm and pleasant manner” which is so welcome during the cold times of the year.

The REAL Tom & Jerry Recipe? ONLY we have it! But, send us a $5 check, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and you too can have a copy of the one and only ORIGINAL T & J!