Panther Milk: Is It Really What It Sounds Like?

Depending on where you order panther milk, prepare to be met by either mischievous, knowing glances or quizzical expressions from confused bartenders. No, panther milk doesn't come from a jungle cat, nor is it used to feed any growing mammal, but you may very well feel like prowling around after sampling this delightfully boozy beverage. 

With a surprising history that includes injured (yet satisfied) soldiers and rowdy college students dancing in nightclubs, panther milk has experienced an unexpected reemergence in European drinking culture. It contains a handful of ingredients — and is sometimes served pink — and the simple concoction has the ability to creep up on you like a creature in the forest. Originally known as "leche de pantera," panther milk is a creamy, dairy-based libation that can pack a surprising punch (via Sh Barcelona). Don't say we didn't warn you.

What is panther milk?

Shaken with ice and strained, panther milk can contain gin, brandy or rum, condensed milk, full cream milk, grenadine, and dustings of cinnamon (via Steve the Bartender). According to Atlas Obscura, the drink is either the brainchild of a Spanish bartender who made a cheap, easy-to-make and easy-to-drink libation that could be enjoyed by deployed troops or an ingenious potion concocted by bored, injured soldiers who began tinkering with condensed milk and whatever drinkable alcohol they could find while bedridden and committed to the infirmary. The cocktail might have vanished if it were not for college kids boozing it up at a bar owned by a former Spanish Legionnaire; it didn't take long for neighboring establishments to put their own twist on the drink, coloring it pink and sprinkling glasses with cinnamon to serve to revelrous customers in the 1970s (per American Projects).

What does panther milk taste like?

Panther milk has gone through some iterations since the 1920s. Now found as both a shot or a drink, the creamy mixture delivers a rich, dessert-like experience and can be found in various colors and presentations (via Sh Barcelona). One bar in Glasgow only served variations of the milky recipe; "When people come into the bar at first, a lot of the time they've heard about this potent liquid," the owner told Vice. "They'll make a face initially when they taste it, then they light up and tell us how great the Leche de Pantera is. It's a nice, easy drink — maybe too easy." Another Glaswegian entrepreneurial effort replaced the recipe's dairy components with oat milk, earning a reputation as a vegan-friendly beverage that can be ordered in strawberry, coffee, and vanilla flavors.

As Steve the Bartender advises, you can pre-make batches at home and store them in the fridge for convenient pouring; simply give your brew a good shake before serving and enjoy neat or over ice — with a cinnamon garnish, of course.