Sounding something like a concoction from a Will Ferrell comedy, Panthers Milk or ‘Leche de Pantera’, has become something of a Barcelona staple. Often bright pink in colour, this beverage is available in bottles, ideal to share, or by the shot. A delicious milk and spirit mixture, plenty of bars now offer their own homemade variation, but its history is as interesting as trying the liquid itself.
Head back nearly one hundred years to the 1920s and you’ll find that the Spanish Foreign Legion is responsible for this notable leche. Legion Founder General José Millán-Astray wanted a drink that was easy to produce and could be served in ‘any situation’. With time spent in some of the harshest environments, such as deserts, the drink needed to have a good shelf life and be easy to reproduce. The tale goes that the general approached legendary barman Perico Chicote at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid, to forge such a beverage. While the idea of Chicote solely aiding in Panthers Milk’s creation makes a great story, most agree that the legion themselves had the biggest hand in bringing the mixture back from the front to the bars of the world.
While injured the soldiers would mix medical-grade alcohol with condensed milk for quick pain relief and later, once out and about, gin and other common liquors.
Skip forward to the 1970s and the sadly missed La Barretina would serve a popular and very strong version to the public, resulting in many students having trouble finding their way home. Falling out of favour in recent decades, the drink has now had something of a Renaissance since many tourists are eager to try its unique flavour.
If you were keen to try it first, a visit to Gotico basement bar Avesta would be a good place to start. They specialize in various colours of the sweet treat and the odd interior in the place just adds to the experience. Below is a simple recipe to try at home. Enjoy.
0.1 oz. BOLS Grenadine
0.9 oz. BOLS Triple Sec Curacao
1.7 oz. Gin
1.3 oz. Cream or Condensed Milk
Serve chilled from the bottle or shake the ingredients into a mixer filled with ice, strain and serve.
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