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rye whiskey, social hour, tom macy, cocktail, classic cocktail

Tom & Jerry



  • ¾ oz Cognac

  • ¾ oz aged rum

  • cup Tom & Jerry batter (give or take)

  • 4-5 oz hot milk, plus some foam on the side (optional) 

  • grated nutmeg


  1. Warm the milk on the stove or in the microwave. It should be steaming, but not a rolling boil.

  2. In a warmed mug, add the batter and spirit and stir to combine.  

  3. Slowly pour in the milk while stirring continuously.  Top with foamed milk, if using, and garnish with grated nutmeg.


Tom & Jerry Batter

  • 6 egg yolks, 3 whites

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon group cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1 oz aged rum


  1. Separate the yolks from the eggs, discard 3 whites (or use for Clover Clubs, Pisco Sours or Silver Gin Fizzes)

  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, yolks, and rum until sugar is dissolved (an electric hand mixer makes this much easier). 

  3. In a separate bowl, beat the whites with the cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks.  Fold them into the sugar mixture until fully integrated.   It's ok if you need to use the whisk to get everything to mix.  The cream of tartar should help maintain the frothiness.



Tom and Jerry was a very popular holiday libation from the mid 19th century into the first half of the 20th century (It predates the cartoon cat and mouse rivals by at least a century).   It's essentially a hot Eggnog with a lighter, more ethereal texture.  The preparation is quite different too. You first make a batter of sugar, eggs, and spices, then whisk little of that together in a mug with some spirits and hot milk to get it to froth up. 


I didn’t totally understand this drink the first few times I tried to make it, mainly because I struggled to get it hot as I wanted.  But I realize now that a Tom & Jerry isn’t supposed to be piping hot like a Hot Toddy, just pleasantly warm and comforting. The ideal temperature is 130-135 degrees (for those fellow nerds using meat thermometers to make their cocktails), but a bit lower than that is fine too.  The whole process may seem a bit laborious, but just think of that as part of its charm.  And when made well, with all the elements in balance, it's a mug full of yuletide magic.


Warning: When adding the hot milk, don’t dump it in all at once!  You will cook the eggs, which is not very appetizing.  It needs to be added slowly at first while continuously stirring. This tempers the eggs. Once they are warm, you can then add it more liberally.



Egg White Ratio

Many recipes call for all the egg whites to be beaten and added into the batter.  While I like the effect this has on the texture, I think it can be too frothy, like drinking a mug full of foam.  Doing half the whites gives you got the best of both worlds: delicate airiness and satisfying richness.  The cream of tartar goes a long way in helping the whites stay integrated, so I highly recommended using it.  Of course, if you want more frothiness, just use more of the whites.


Milk Frother

The best tool for heating milk is a milk frother.  It gives the milk some levity and allows you to put a picturesque dollop of foam on top of the finished drink, this is the one I use.  If you have an espresso machine that steams milk, even better.  Pro tip: however you warm the milk, pour it out of something with a spout.  

Hot Milk Punch - aka Tom and Jerry, Abridged


A much simpler and still very festive alternative to the Tom & Jerry is the Hot Milk Punch.  It’s essentially the same drink but without the eggs, so tempering isn’t an issue.  It doesn't have quite the same magic but is still very satisfying and much simpler to prepare.


  • 2 oz spirit - bourbon or a combination of brandy/rum

  • ¾ oz simple syrup, cinnamon syrup, or 1 tablespoon sugar + ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 4-5 oz hot milk

  • Grated nutmeg


Either combine sugar and spirit(s) in a mug and fill with hot milk, or combine and heat in the microwave. Top with grated nutmeg.

Hot Milk Punch

Vintage Tom and Jerry Bowls and Mugs

Another the most charming feature of a Tom and Jerry is its traditional serving vessel, which is a ceramic bowl with matching monogrammed mugs. These used to be fairly common kitchen items through the first half of the 20th century.  The batter was mixed in the bowl and then spooned into the mugs.  While they aren’t manufactured anymore, there are still many to be had on sites like Ebay and Etsy.  Bowls are getting harder and harder to come by, but mugs are easier - like the one pictured above. They definitely keep the Tom and Jerry spirit alive.  


If you mix up some Tom & Jerrys let me see!  Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.

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