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.


Note: This is a repost from 2013.

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 am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1862, Books and Authors, Food and Drink and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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