The Tom and Jerry—a hot cocktail that’s good for colder weather—originates from England in the 1800s. On Christmas Eve in New Orleans, we make this beverage for locals who take it along with them to walk around the French Quarter.
At French 75 Bar, we like to make a Tom and Jerry drink for people who are walking around on Christmas Eve. We all work a double on that night, so the bar's open during the day—which it usually isn't—in addition to our evening service. It's nice for people to pop into a really old-looking bar. The back bar is 130 years old and the restaurant [Arnaud's] is almost one hundred years old. Walking around the Quarter during Christmas Eve is also a throwback. People like to pop in here and keep the theme going, and order a drink that's an old holiday cocktail.
The Tom and Jerry is from the 1800s, and it's a hot cocktail that's good for colder weather. It originates from England, and it starts off with a Tom and Jerry batter. It takes a little bit of time because you have to separate out the eggs, beat the whites, add sugar, beat the yolks, and then add more sugar and spices. It's a pretty in-depth process, as things were back then. When people take the time to be able to serve drinks like this in our fast-paced world, it's nice to enjoy them. People appreciate that. We've being doing this for almost nine years now. Guests come in and tell their friends, and it's something special for them to do on Christmas Eve. It's become a tradition for some New Orleanians.
The Tom and Jerry is the steamy cousin of eggnog. When you think of eggnog, you only think of the holidays. You don't want to have an egg beverage all the time. When it gets cool enough—and we feel like we can celebrate like the rest of the Northerners—it's nice to have a Tom and Jerry. If you go to antique stores, it's interesting to see that everyone used to have a Tom and Jerry bowl. It's a big ceramic bowl, usually decorated with snowflakes. It definitely signifies the winter. I know that, per gallon, eggnog is consumed so much more than Tom and Jerry, but it's so interesting to see how popular the drink used to be. There are so many bowls and mugs that are available because nobody makes it anymore.
On Christmas Day, the restaurant is closed, so a lot of the bartenders meet in Jackson Square for mulled wine, and we randomly walk around and go into different bars. The Quarter is so peacefully quiet on Christmas Day, and a lot of people have never been there then because they're either with their families or not in the city at all. We like to just set up a mulled wine station. For their contribution, bartenders will dump in a bottle of wine, then we heat it up and just hang out and talk. It's a nice little tradition.
This post previously appeared on MUNCHIES in December 2014.