L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide: A Brief History of the Tom and Jerry

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A recipe for the Tom and Jerry from the San Francisco Call, June 30, 1912.


Over on Facebook, Christopher McPherson asked whether the Tom and Jerry was named for the MGM cartoon characters. I said I suspected the opposite was true, rather like Disney’s Chip ‘n’ Dale being named for Chippendale furniture.

All the old newspaper stories give credit for the drink to bartender Jerry Thomas, who according to one account was born in New Haven, Conn., in 1825 (or Watertown, N.Y., in 1830),

The Fulton Patriot, Jan. 23, 1941

A bit of history and a recipe for the Tom and Jerry from the Fulton Patriot, Jan. 23, 1941


However, the New York Daily Graphic, Feb. 2, 1886, has different details.

New York Daily Graphic, Feb. 2, 1886.
New York Daily Graphic, Feb. 2, 1886.

One of the earliest references I found to the Tom and Jerry was in the New York Evening Telegram, June 25, 1873, and by then the drink was already quite popular and well known.

That’s because the recipe had been published in 1862 in “How to Mix Drinks or  The Bon Vivant’s Companion” by Jerry Thomas himself. Notice that the drink was sometimes called a Copenhagen or a Jerry Thomas.

If anyone is so bold as to make Thomas’ 1862 recipe, let us know how it is.  It requires five pounds of sugar and a dozen eggs, so we won’t try in the Daily Mirror’s test kitchen.

How to Mix Drinks, Jerry Thomas

Tom and Jerry

The Tom and Jerry

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1862, Books and Authors, Food and Drink and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide: A Brief History of the Tom and Jerry

  1. Norm Halbert says:

    I remember my parents making Tom and Jerry’s when holiday visitors were expected. That was the rare time when dad wore a coat and tie and mom had heels on at home for their guests. It was like a large scientific project being assembled right there in our kitchen, everyone huddled together with their backs to me. This gave way after a few years to no coats and ties and just bourbon and 7 up as they adopted more of the California lifestyle. Now in my retirement I see an endless stream of Tom and Jerry mugs being donated to the charity thrift store I volunteer at by children my age whose parents also wore coats and ties for company, Today the only people with any interest in Tom and Jerry mugs seems to be gay couples and only if their names are also Tom and Jerry..

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