Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Hour #10 Christmas Tradition with Tom and Jerry

This week's Happy Hour is dedicated to Bill, Cindy, Ben, Taya, Becky, Andrea and Teresa.  Every year they celebrate Christmas with Tom and Jerrys.  A Tom and Jerry is an egg nogg-y type drink that dates back to the 1800s.  It warms you up from the inside out and is a perfect winter drink.

The drink has been mentioned in several newspapers, and was quite popular before prohibition.  Here's a little history for you:

* The Bangor (Maine) Daily Whig and Courier on July 15, 1841, published a poem with Prohibitionist sentiment, reading, in part:

“And some sipped Cordial, And some swagged Brandy, And some drank Toddy, Some Tom and Jerry,  Others Rum of the Mountain dew. Ah! who can tell the countless graves They filled with deluded slaves [to alcohol]!”

* A San Francisco magazine called “California History” in 2004 published a letter from one Pat Effinger, dated March 1, 1850, to his brother, Mike, from San Francisco.  Pat tells Mike about a saloon called the Garricks Head:

“This is the favorite resort of the best class of foreigners, English, French, and Spaniards. I must call your attention to that pretty black-eyed Creole standing behind the bar and in order to have a better view of her, we’ll get her to make us a Tom and Jerry. All the drinking saloons of the City have adopted this custom of placing pretty, saucy looking, active girls behind their bars.”

* An 1864 Indiana Supreme Court opinion, in reciting the facts in a criminal case, mention two men coming into a bar and ordering “Tom and Jerries.”

* “TOM AND JERRY and ALL HOT DRINKS” could be procured in the Los Angeles Civic Center at the Cosmopolitan Saloon, at Main and Temple Streets, according to a Los Angeles newspaper called the “Evening Republican,” in its issue of April 9, 1877. (That establishment also offered “SAUER KRAUT AND WIENER WURST” and “OYSTERS AT ALL HOURS.”)

While that ad appeared in April, the drink was generally associated with wintertime and the holidays.

* The Los Angeles Times on Jan. 2, 1895, reflecting on the day before, observed that the “society of those old-time New Year friends, ‘Tom and Jerry,’ was much sought during the day….”

* The origin of the drink is uncertain. Here’s one story, published Jan. 11, 1887, in the Marion (Ohio) Daily Star, picked up from the Cleveland Press:

“[A] couple of young bloods named Tom and Jerry, in a Jersey town cut out on a lark one, night. They agreed between themselves to try every drink known to the barkeepers in the place. They got through with their scheme along toward daylight the next morning. Their heads were as large as cotton bales and their hair pulled like a team of street-car mules.  They went into one more place before going home and asked the bartender to give them a new drink of some kind.  The liquor juggler went to work in a careless, don’t care sort of way.  He beat some eggs into a froth, put in some sugar, and little hot water, a thimbleful of whisky and some nutmeg. Tom and Jerry swallowed the drinks and smacked their lips. They asked the name of the drink. The bar keeper said it was nameless. ‘Then call it Tom and Jerry,’ said the bloods, and it was a go.”

* Tom and Jerrys continued as holiday favorites until national Prohibition went into effect in 1920.  While bathtub gin was plentiful, homemade rum and brandy weren’t.

I have rarely heard anyone talking about drinking a Tom and Jerry.  But we should ask for it more.  They are delicious.  But be prepared.  Unless your bartender is very good, you may have to give him the recipe.

1 egg separated
1 teaspoon fine sugar
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1/3 cup hot milk

Beat the egg white until its stiff, beat the yolk until thick and lemon-colored.  Combine them and beat in the sugar.  Have ready a warmed 8 ounce mug.  Add the egg mixture, brandy and rum, then fill with hot milk.  Stir and top with a little ground nutmeg.  Serves 1.

Cheers!  And happy holidays!

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  1. Love it, Jen! And only a couple more days before they're served up at the Schultze's! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas - hugs! :)

  2. You have so many ideas. Have a wonderful and fulfilling new year!


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