Nowadays a Tom and Jerry is a drink, one composed of brandy, rum, beaten egg, sugar, nutmeg, and hot milk or water.
These components may vary somewhat, but those are the usual current ingredients in the United States.
The name is derived from two characters in Pierce Egan’s Life in London; or, Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom (1821).
This book, describing the sporting activities of that day, illustrated by George Cruikshank, was immensely popular.
Hence, through the earlier “Jerry shop,” a term for a low beer hall, the two names, Tom and Jerry, in this reversed order, began to be associated with drinking and carousing within a few years after the appearance of the book.
A standard recipe for the drink, however, by one under the nom de plume, Jerry Thomas, did not appear until 1862.