Tom and Jerry Day rings in new year at Legion

Tom and Jerry Day has become a New Year’s Day tradition at the Coon Rapids American Legion.

Roger Avery serves up a Tom and Jerry at the Coon Rapids American Legion’s annual Tom and Jerry Day event Jan. 1.

Roger Avery serves up a Tom and Jerry at the Coon Rapids American Legion’s annual Tom and Jerry Day event Jan. 1.

Some 200 people attended the event Jan. 1 to kick off 2014 at the Legion hall on Crooked Lake Boulevard.

And Tom and Jerry Day was not just for members of the American Legion and its Ladies Auxiliary.

“We do it for the community,” said Dominic Sambrano, Legion commander.

Tom and Jerry refers to the mixed drink, a variant of eggnog, not the famous cartoon characters.

The recipe used by Legion member Roger Avery included eggs beaten into a batter, plus half and half helpings of rum and vodka, served from a large glass bowl.

The contents of the bowl were poured into a cup and topped off by hot water.

What makes the Tom and Jerry so popular is the batter with the rum and vodka added, Avery said.

Shirley Christianson takes her cup of Tom and Jerry with the hot water added.

Shirley Christianson takes her cup of Tom and Jerry with the hot water added.

The Tom and Jerry Day has been a New Year’s Day event at the Legion since 1987 and has drawn large number of people to the Legion each year.

It was started by Lyle Haney, a longtime Coon Rapids American Legion member and past commander, Avery said.

According to Sambrano, Haney used a family recipe handed down since the 1880s for the Legion’s Tom and Gerry cocktail.

“It’s a special recipe that only Lyle and one other member at the Legion know,” Sambrano said.

The recipe requires plenty of eggs.

Fifteen dozen eggs were used, according to Diane Bohlman, Coon Rapids American Legion Ladies Auxiliary officer.

The free event also included sandwiches to eat.

In addition, people attending were asked to bring items to donate to the Anoka County Brotherhood Council Food Shelf.

“The day was an opportunity to get together with old friends and meet new friends,” Bohlman said.

Kathy Arne (left) and Shari Zulkosky (right) help themselves to sandwiches provided free of charge at the Coon Rapids American Legion’s Tom and Jerry Day event on New Year’s Day.

Kathy Arne (left) and Shari Zulkosky (right) help themselves to sandwiches provided free of charge at the Coon Rapids American Legion’s Tom and Jerry Day event on New Year’s Day.

According to Wikipedia, the Tom and Jerry is a traditional Christmas holiday cocktail particularly in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but not so much in other parts of the country.

It was created by British journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s.

The name of the drink did not come from the cartoon characters, nor from a famous bartender Jerry Thomas, who authored one of the first bartender guides, “How to Mix Drinks” in 1862.

Rather, Wikipedia states that the Tom and Jerry name is a reference to Egan’s book, “Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom” published in 1821, and the stage play that followed, also in 1821, titled “Tom and Jerry, or Life in London.”

To publicize the book and play, Egan introduced a variation of eggnog by adding half a fluid ounce of brandy and calling it a “Tom and Jerry,” according to Wikipedia.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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