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!
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure policy here.)
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?
Other posts you may enjoy:
Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar with Homemade Mix Recipe
20+ Cozy Hot Chocolate Recipes
Top 10 Christmas Themed Fudge Recipes
Crockpot Baked Apple Recipe
My Moma use to make us a similar Virgin drink as kids. We did call it eggnog. She would put an egg yolk in a glass, then about a tablespoon of sugar and stir. Then add vanilla to warm milk and add to the glass with the yolk, stir some more, then top with sweetened whipped egg whites and a little nutmeg. We never had any I'll effects from the raw egg and would beg her to make it for us back in the 60's. Thanks for reviving an old memory. My mom was 92 when she passed last year.
Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your mom passing. I found the 1st Christmas without my mom was really hard.
So funny.....I have the same set, bought cheap because it was Christmasy. Never used for its intended purpose and never will. Use the bowl for popcorn, mugs for cocoa or just cute kitchen decoration. But it was such a good deal!! lol
I think I might want to start a collection of them. The only problem is they are hard to store the other 11 months out of the year!
Rum flavoring could be used if a person didn't want the alcoholic rum.
Oh, that's true. I didn't think of that!
Thanks for the background on the drink; I always wondered about it whenever I saw the sets at stores. 🙂
O! The memories! I was born in 1950 - yeah, I'm OLD! My mom & dad always had Tom & Jerrys at Christmas time. They always served them to guests and invited people over on Christmas Eve for T&Js! They had the exact same set you have. My dad was the driving force - he would go down to south Rockford, IL to an Italian bakery and buy the egg batter mix and then fill his bowl up, have his hot water and rum and whiskey all ready to mix each drink. We always had them for our family Christmas gatherings too. They were - and still are - very popular in that area. When I moved to the South nobody knew what I was talking about
That's fantastic. I love keeping all the old family traditions alive. And glad to know that you used to be able to buy it at the bakery. I had heard that, but when I called around to the old-school bakeries here in town, I couldn't find anyone who knew what I was talking about.
Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces
Oh my...sounds like a boozy snickerdoodle in a cup...I'll be right over!
Thanks for sharing, Pam!
Oh wow, I can't believe I've never heard of this before. What a cute retro set and the recipe sounds super yummy. This may be a great new signature Christmas cocktail for us. Pinning for later.
I like Linda at Itsy Bitsy's comment above! Too funny, Pam!!! I have seen similar sets to these at antique stores and I think I'd end up using them for hot chocolate. Great recipe, though, and I think I have had it before as I remember a rum drink served hot!
Thanks and I pinned a couple for you and for everyone. Yum!
Happy Christmastime to you,
Looks yummy! Love the serving dishware, too!
Made this for our office party last weekend and it was a HUGE hit! Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you so much for the history on these!! It made my day, I just came across a set of cups, no bowl but absolutely love this!! Can't wait to use it for Christmas this year!
I’ve made this for years however now living in Florida and have major separation of foam and eggs in containers . Syrupy sweet liquid settles to bottom! I’ve tried everything possible. Is it the water content in the eggs?
I wonder if it has to do with the humidity in Florida. I know here in Ohio, I cannot whip eggs up into good stiff peaks if it's raining or snowing outside, so I would imagine it's the same concept with humidity down there.
Brings back memories! Grandpa would make these every winter and had such a cool T&J set . He'd make us virgin versions. I loved the crispy crust that would form on the top of the batter. Interesting that he would only use buttermilk but I haven't found any recipe online that uses buttermilk. I'll have to see if my mom has his recipe somewhere!
can i serve tom and jerry in a punch bowl premixed.. i guess it would cool down but i want the ambiance of my silver pumch bowl and a frothy concoction served from it??? does any one have advice?? jn
It gets less frothy the longer the foam sits in the hot milk/water, so it will probably just look milky after a while. Sort of like how whipped cream melts and mixes in with your cocoa after a bit. If you plan on ladling it up in cups all at once I suppose it would work, but then not sure how you'd get the right amount of foam vs alcohol in each cup 🙂
Normally when I have a party, as soon as the guests start arriving I will put the big bowl of batter out. Then set up the cups, alcohol and hot milk (a vintage silver coffee or tea pot would be great to go with your silver punch bowl) and then have the guests serve themselves. You can make a cute sign for beside the bowl telling people how to mix it or just make a little announcement on how to do it. And in a party situation like that I don't bother with heating up the cups with the hot water, because that will just keep you running back and forth to the kitchen way too much. It's a nice touch, but not absolutely necessary.
Just made this and enjoying a warm mug now! Makes a lot, remainder went in the freezer, will be able to enjoy it all winter . . . if it lasts that long.
My folks & neighbors (who were Midwest transplants to WA state) made this every year. The batter would go in the freezer & we'd have it all month or until it was gone. Us kids would put it in coffee sans the rum. It wasn't until I was an adult that I saw the bowl sets! Now my kids are begging me to whip some up this year, since they're old enough now for the "adult" version!
I too found a Tom and Jerry set and am determined to use it this Christmas so thank you for the great article and recipe. I have one question/clarification…is the punch bowl used to hold the batter from which you scoop the contents to make individual servings? Thanks!!