Younger drinkers expect to see plant-based dairy alternatives on the back bar

SLTN ‘Meet The Maker’

Paul Crawford, founder/CEO of Panther M*lk


Q: Name of the product you make?

A: Panther M*lk, which is an oat milk-based cocktail that is ready to serve and available in four delicious flavours. Our cocktails are inspired by a 100-year old cocktail recipe popular in 1920’s Spain called ‘leche de pantera’ which translates as ‘milk of the panther’. We’ve reimagined this legendary creamy cocktail using oat milk which makes our product both dairy-free and gluten-free. 

Q: How long have you worked for the company?

A: We were established as a drinks brand in 2020 but the story started before that. We had a secret pop-up ‘Panther Milk Bar’ set in the back of a popular city-centre bar where we only sold Panther Milk on Friday and Saturday nights. The pop-up bar was hugely successful, and the intended three-month pop-up stint ended up continuing for four and a half years.

I always had the dream of launching as a brand so when I was made redundant from my tech job at the start of Covid I decided to take the plunge into the drinks world. After a warm reception on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den a few years back, the brand has grown significantly and enjoyed success primarily across Scotland. We are now excited to be launching our sleek new bottle and improved recipe across the UK.

Panther M*lk’s sleek new bottle design

Q: Describe the production process

A: When we launched as a brand, we wanted to create a sustainable product that everyone could enjoy and for this reason, we use oat milk as the base for all of our cocktails. We use a secret blend of spirits to create four heavenly and up-tempo variations: Crema, Rosa, Menta and Café, all of which can be enjoyed over ice with a sprinkle of cinnamon just as they do in Barcelona.

Many people like to use our cocktails as a shot too, making it a fun, low-ABV and dairy-free alternative to other popular creamy shots.

Q: What’s a typical working day like? 

A: It’s very varied, it can range from meeting with suppliers to brainstorming with our sales and marketing team to attending events. No two days are the same, which I love. After being part of the Sub Club for 20 years I had an office-based job with a tech start-up company, but I much prefer being my own boss and having creative control of the brand.

Q: Please provide tasting notes 

A: All four of our smooth and creamy products have different flavour profiles. Crema is a silky and rich cocktail with hints of vanilla, caramel and warming spice. Rosa is a fun and fruity cocktail with the flavour of fresh strawberries. Café is the purrfect pick-me-up cocktail during nights out using warm roasted coffee and Menta is a fresh and cool cocktail with added notes of peppermint.

The old school bottle design, on show at In-Drinks 2023

Q: What would you say sets your product apart from others? 

A: Many things give our product a distinctive appeal. Plant-based dairy alternatives are a huge and still growing sector, and there is an expectation amongst younger drinkers to see these on the back-bar as an alternative to traditional cream liqueurs, as a cocktail ingredient and shot.

Oat milk carries flavour much better than dairy alternatives, making the drink more session-able. We also have a unique and authentic back story that people love to delve into to discover more.

Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your product? 

A: Our ‘Purrfect serve’ is chilled Panther M*lk served over ice and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Why cinnamon? When you buy ‘leche de pantera’ in Barcelona they hand over a cinnamon shaker with your bottle and we think this authentic serve brings out the warming spice element in all our flavours.

 Q: What’s your favourite part of the job? 

A: My favourite part of my job is meeting new people and telling them all about our brand. I love seeing their faces once they’ve tried the product as they always end up smiling and people seem to like our brand story and ethos.

Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why? 

A: The tsunami of charisma that is Colin Barr from Glasgow’s Bier Halle. Colin has always been the perfect host and one of the first people to embrace new ideas – in fact he was one of Panther M*lk’s first customers. 

Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink? 

A: Most of my heroes have sadly passed so I would have to say Muhammad Ali, we would go to Jimmy’s Corner in New York and drink Guinness.

Muhammad Ali