14 December 2011


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a Tom and Jerry by the Christmas tree.

As much as I love the holidays – the baking, decorating, and music, the warm glowing lights and festive gatherings – the absurdity and obscenity of kicking off the Christmas “season” right after Halloween continues to spiral out of control. Even though the National Retail Federation declares November 1 the start of the holiday season, I appreciated Nordstrom’s policy on the issue this year with large signs prominently displayed throughout November declaring that they would not be decking the halls until AFTER the Thanksgiving holiday, taking a tiny stance on the commercialization of Christmas.

So this year, in an effort to simplify and in lieu of the 60 days of Christmas, I am returning to the idea of the old English carol and the 12 days of Christmas. And what better way to kick it off than with a warm and frothy cocktail? I first read about the Tom and Jerry a few years back in a holiday edition of Saveur magazine and was intrigued at the idea of a cocktail having its own signature mug and serving bowl. Inspired by eggnog, the prohibition-era beverage predates the cat and mouse cartoon and was invented in the 1820′s by writer Pierce Egan to promote his book Life in London. It later re-emerged in the 1950s as a Christmas tradition in American homes perfect for tree trimming parties.

So it is in the spirit of these TWELVE days of Christmas that I present this pre-game recipe. And it is in the spirit of commercialization that I ordered these vintage mugs from Etsy, just right for the occasion.  Cheers!


Tom and Jerry
from Saveur – serves 12

2 eggs, separated
1⁄8 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1⁄2 cups plus 2 tsp. dark rum
2⁄3 cup superfine sugar
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄8 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves
4 1⁄2 cups milk
1 1⁄2 cups cognac, preferably VSOP
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.

2. In another bowl, whisk yolks, 2 tsp. rum, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves until thick. Working in 2 batches, fold egg whites into yolk mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill batter.

3. To serve, heat milk in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat; keep warm. Put 1 heaping tbsp. batter into a mug; stir in 1–2 tbsp. each of cognac and rum. Fill mug with 6 tbsp. milk; stir until frothy and garnish with nutmeg. Repeat.


Tom and Jerry for One
from Heavy Table – serves 1

1 egg, separated
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 oz rum
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
¼ cup hot milk
¼ oz brandy
freshly grated nutmeg

Warm a mug with hot water. Beat the yolk with the sugar and spices until thick. Stir in rum. Beat the egg whites until very stiff. Fold the whites into the yolks. Pour into heated mug and gently stir in milk and brandy. Top with freshly grated nutmeg.