On Friday and Saturday nights, Glaswegians enter a clandestine drinking establishment through a fire exit in the back of another bar. This converted 1940s freight elevator operates solely to serve one legendary Spanish tipple: panther milk.
Why do the city’s weekend warriors flock to milk? Because panther milk, or leche de pantera, was designed explicitly to be highly drinkable and efficiently intoxicating. This condensed milk–based cocktail originated with the Spanish Foreign Legion in the 1920s. Depending on which origin story you believe, it was either created as an easy-to-assemble cocktail for those stationed abroad or as a method of pleasant pain relief for injured soldiers.
While Spanish troops valued the recipe’s bare-bones ingredient list—condensed milk, gin, and water were all it took to whip up a batch—at Panther Milk Bar, things get more complex. Bartenders enhance the prototypical recipe with other ingredients to create variations such as vanilla, mint, and strawberry. On Christmas, they also mix up warm versions in festive flavors such as chocolate-orange.
But even with creative license and leisurely drinking factored in, panther milk remains true to its origins of potency. Three people are meant to share one bottle. And if one reveler is lactose-intolerant, they’ll have to drink at the connected sister-bar outside. As the manager told Vice: “It’s strictly just milk in here.”
Update as of October 2019: The Panther Milk Bar will be moving to Toni’s Pizzeria, 23 Gibson Street, Glasgow, with the same weekend opening hours.
Update as of April 2020: Panther Milk Bar has moved to Bananamoon on Great Western Road.