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Best Message in a Bottle

When that glass bottle of whole Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy milk clinks against a glass from my kitchen, I realize I’ve got more going for me than my beer budget and caviar dreams. This is milk in a glass bottle — a recyclable glass bottle. The business is local. It’s not a factory farm. And it produces a deifically beautiful range of milk products, from vitamin D, buttermilk and eggnog to the brown-is-beautiful taste of chocolate milk.

Manager Ray Broguiere Jr. oversees the business, owned and operated by five generations of his family since 1920. Early on, it was known as the Montebello Sanitary Dairy (“sanitary” being as popular a term in its day as “pastrami”). The empire covered the Montebello, East Los Angeles and San Marino areas until 1997, when home deliveries tailed off and distribution began to markets from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

Ray Jr., who took the reins from Raymond Sr. in 1975, currently presides over a dozen employees, including his son and granddaughters. His chief motivation for maintaining the tradition: “It’s the pure taste of the product — in reality, it’s what milk tastes like. In paper and plastic, it’ll pick up the odor and flavor of that particular product.”

He shrugs off any criticism of milk itself: “Whenever there’s a new report [about the negative effects of milk], another report comes out contradicting it. That’s your choice, fine — but don’t condemn me for it.”

Some experiments: Broguiere’s maple milk doubled as a sugar substitute for morning cereal in the early ’90s, but for some strange reason it failed, as did a subsequent foray into strawberry milk. Today, San Jacinto is where the cows are; Broguiere’s had a herd of its own until 1972, but now the dairy buys strictly from one producer, which ensures a consistent quality, taste and flavor time and again. And it tastes like liquid twilight. If you’re not drinking milk from glass bottles, why are you still alive?

505 S. Maple Ave., Montebello, (323) 726-0524.

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