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Cheers to the Spanish Foreign Legion!
Friday, January 13, 2023 @ 10:54 PM

Those who happen to have visited the bars along Carrer de la Mercè, a street that runs through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, will have undoubtedly encountered Panther Milk. Known locally as "Leche de Pantera". This dangerous drink is basically a cocktail of condensed milk, gin, water and a few other touches which I will share with you shortly. Although not so widely spread as a drink, it does have an interesting history.

Head back nearly one hundred years to the 1920s and you’ll find that the Spanish Foreign Legion is responsible for this notable mixture. 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. While injured the soldiers would mix medical-grade alcohol with condensed milk for quick pain relief and later, once out and about it was upgraded to gin and other common liquors.

In the ensuing decades, panther milk largely disappeared. In the 1970s, however, it was resurrected by a newfound fervent fanbase: college students. Around 1975, a former Spanish Legionnaire opened a bar called La Barretina in an alley along Carrer de la Mercè. There, he began whipping up chilled bottles of the old favorite. Students flocked to this revolutionary cocktail, which became a staple in the area. La Barretina’s neighbours quickly caught on to the new trend. The bar across the street, Tasca El Corral, hopped on the bandwagon by making a less potent, more palatable pink version. La Barretina has since shuttered, but the neighbourhood’s “pink panther milk” (Leche de Pantera rosa) spot remains popular three decades later, and here is the contemporary recipe:



Pink Panther Milk Recipe

0.1 oz. BOLS Grenadine (do not add if you want white Panther milk)

0.9 oz. BOLS Triple Sec Curacao liquor

1.7 oz. Gin - any one you like but London Dry is best.

1.3 oz. Condensed Milk

Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top if you want

Serve chilled from the bottle or shake the ingredients into a mixer filled with ice, strain and serve.


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