Connolly’s Tom and Jerry Batter from Superior, WI

Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Hot buttered rum, mulled cider, and eggnog may have roles to play in the holiday season, but in the Midwest there is a certain bias towards the Tom and Jerry. The sweet foam across your lip and the warm blend of rum and brandy provide a sense of comfort and hope in a land where below-zero temperatures reach double digits and the world goes on. For most, making a Tom and Jerry first requires making the batter, but in the Duluth / Superior area the drink is so popular you can purchase a locally made Tom and Jerry batter in most grocery stores. Connolly’s Tom and Jerry batter has been made in Superior, WI since 1949. (For more on Tom and Jerrys, also see our story “The Best Tom and Jerry, Updated.”)

Connolly’s recommends filling a cup ⅓ full of batter with ½ jigger of brandy and ½ jigger of rum, then filling the rest of the cup with piping hot water or milk. It is not stirred, which causes the batter to rise to the top, creating a layer of froth. Any dark rum will do, but Myers’s Dark Rum adds an extra richness to the beverage. Water works better in the drink because of the difference in texture between the foamy top and liquid below. Using milk usually makes for a very thick beverage that is too similar to the mouthfeel of the batter.

The ease and convenience of Connolly’s Tom and Jerry Batter is an ideal last-minute party idea, but if you have tasted a fresh batch of homemade Tom and Jerry Batter, it doesn’t compare. Connolly’s comes in a 1-lb plastic container that is shelf stable for 14 days after opening or three months frozen. Artificial coloring and corn syrup add to the longevity of the product, but it lacks the airy texture that makes a Tom and Jerry fun to drink.

Many Tom and Jerry recipes have been created over time, but in the 19th century Thomas Jeremiah was credited with the creation of the drink in his obituary. His recipe:

5 lb sugar
12 eggs
½ small glass of Jamaica Rum
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground allspice

“Beat the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and the yolks until they are thin as water, then mix together and add the spice and rum; thicken with sugar until the mixture attains the consistency of a light batter. A teaspoon of cream of tartar, or about as much carbonate of soda as you can get on a dime, will prevent the sugar from settling to the bottom of the mixture.”

As the drink has evolved, less sugar has been used and brandy has been added. A recipe that captures the essence of the Tom and Jerry while combining modern cocktail ideas was created by Audrey Saunders, co-owner and mixologist of the Pegu Club in New York. Her recipe called the Tom and Jerry and Audrey is:

12 fresh eggs (yolks and whites separated)
2 lb white sugar
6 tbsp fine Madagascar vanilla extract
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
6 oz boiling milk
½ tsp ground all spice
2 oz Bacardi 8 Anejo Rum
1 oz Courvoisier VS Cognac
4 dashes Angostura bitters

Whether your Tom and Jerry batter is purchased from the store or is a variation of the original recipe, it is important to experiment. Sugar, eggs, and rum are only the beginning of a holiday beverage that has been embraced more by the Midwest than anywhere else.

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8 Comments

  1. We moved to Houston from Milwaukee 7 1/2 years ago and have yet to find anyone here who has even HEARD of a Tom & Jerry! Might have to resort to making my own if my daughter fails to import some from MSP (is T&J batter a liquid or a gel?)

  2. Am I missing the rest of the recipe for the Tom and Jerry and Audrey? What do I do with the ingredients?

  3. Author

    Laura,
    Beat egg yolks until they are thin as water. Add sugar, spices, rum and and vanilla to egg yolks (while beating). Beat egg whites until stiff and fold them into the egg yolk mixture. Refrigerate.

    When serving use 2 ounces of batter, 1 ounce rum, 1 ounce cognac and six ounces water. Don’t stir and garnish with nutmeg.

    Best of luck!

    Eric

  4. K Knisely12/27/2009Reply

    Our tradition comes from a fine home cook in New Philadephia, Ohio — Mildred Pearch, may her soul rest in peace. She used light brown sugar instead of white sugar; also the alcohol was only added to the hot water directly, not part of the mix. Hot water, never milk. I guess there are as many variations as there are homes where served, but they all sound great. Check out wikipedia.org for an interesting history from the 1860s — and the name did NOT originate with a cartoon cat and mouse!

  5. Christmas Eve 2010 has two new posts!

    For the Milwaukee transplants in Houston. I found T&J at Spec’s on Mason Road in Katy, but it’s in a little jar, looks like mustard and I’ll let someone try it first. LOOKS DISGUSTING!!!

  6. jim maijala01/06/2014Reply

    I really like your tom &jerry batter, I,ve bought it for years.
    this year i bought 2 at super one &went to make one and open it
    and there was about 1 1/2″ of yellow sugar eggs on the bottom…
    it said to whip to original state, well I whipped for 10 minutes
    and nothing happen..1 1/2 yellow sugar egg’s…
    pretty high price EGG”S 6.99 for 1

    14.00 and no TOM&JERRY this year

    JIM

Trackbacks for this post

  1. […] something about savory, spiked drinks — apple cider with mulling spices and brandy, eggnog, Tom and Jerrys, and mulled wine — that instantly conjures holiday memories, and, even if you’ve never […]

  2. […] we dug back into the Heavy Table archives and found a piece from last year on the beloved, elusive Connolly’s. It included ingredients for an updated Tom and Jerry (and Audrey) as featured on the fun and […]

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