Buffalo’s Tom and Jerry History

The Tom and Jerry

Buffalo warmly welcomes holiday traditions with the sipping of Tom and Jerrys, a delightful blend of warm rum, brandy, and spices. Originating in England in the mid-1800s and immortalized in a 1938 Damon Runyon short story about a mischievous Christmas prank, this cherished tradition found its way to Buffalo taverns like The Place and Schwabl’s in the 1940s. While its fame is rooted in the upper Midwest, particularly in dairy-loving Wisconsin and the charming taverns of Western New York, the popularity of Tom and Jerry extends beyond borders, enticing festive patrons from New Orleans to San Francisco.

Unlike its heavier cousin, eggnog, Tom and Jerry is a lighter, warming delight of hot water, rum, brandy, and a delectable egg batter sprinkled with nutmeg. Creating the batter is no small feat, as it involves a meticulous process of beating eggs, sugar, and butter until achieving a whipped cream-like consistency, followed by the addition of spices like vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Each establishment boasts its own secret touches, setting their signature batter apart. Once prepared, a mug is filled with a mix of Jamaican rum, brandy, and hot water, then crowned with the batter and a sprinkle of spices. The result is a drink that Buffalo locals describe as a Hallmark movie in a cup.

As Buffalo weather turns chilly, the heartwarming comfort of a Tom and Jerry has become a beloved winter antidote. From Thanksgiving through January, delightful variations and options abound, including DIY kits for creating the concoction at home, innovative spice combinations, and commemorative mugs. Each venue adds its own unique twist to the timeless recipe. For a classic experience, Schwabl’s pours their brew into shimmering vintage peach-colored glass mugs. At Resurgence Brewery, indulge in a creation inspired by sponge candy-infused beer. The Tom and Jerry at Mes Que soccer bar on Hertel Avenue surprises with a base of apple brandy and aged rum, heightened by crushed red pepper for some extra heat, a hint of sassafras from a bay leaf, and the earthy notes of turmeric. The Place, known as one of the oldest taverns offering this cherished libation, also provides patrons with commemorative mugs, making the experience even more memorable.

In recent decades, the timeless charm and comforting warmth of Tom and Jerry have made it an esteemed winter elixir. Embracing the spirit of the season, this cherished tradition brings joy and cheer to all who partake.