Ask someone if they like ice cold panther milk and there are two possible outcomes.
Either they’ll watch you with a silent alarm (arguably wondering if this is the latest health food fad they’ve been missing out on and how dangerous it can be to get a cat’s milk wild) or they’ll know just fine. Well, you’re talking about a classic Glasgow cocktail with great worship.
From getting started at a downtown sweatshop-style bar to relaunching as an independent beverage brand, it’s been quite a journey for Panther Milk and its founder and CEO Paul Crawford.
Pictured: Paul Crawford founder and CEO of Panther Milk
Returning to the origin story of the brand, he said, âI have been in the licensing business for years and worked in the Sub Club and then in co-ownership between 1991 and 2012.
âDuring this time, we were organizing club events in Barcelona for events like the Sonar music festival.
âOne evening, one of the club owners took me to a bar in the Gothic Quarter where they sold this incredible milky, sweet and alcoholic concoction that they called ‘Leche De Pantera’ or Panther Milk, that’s as well as it all started.
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âMyself, the DJs and the promoters all went home and told everyone about this amazing drink that we had tried while in Spain.
âWe went back to the same bar the following year, it was full of Glasgow.
“That’s when I decided to open a pop-up bar in Glasgow that only sold Panther Milk in three different flavors.”
Pictured: Panther Milk became an instant hit in Glasgow
Newly determined to bring this exotic cocktail to the people of Glasgow, an offer of the chance to settle in the heart of the city quickly made the drink a cultural phenomenon.
Tucked away in the back room of Tabac, the pop-up bar space effortlessly maintained the kind of cool, underground “if you know you know” vibe that was starting to become a big part of Panther Milk’s appeal. .
Paul said: âA friend of mine at the time had just bought a bar on Mitchell Lane that had this sort of ‘secret’ space almost in the back.
âHe asked me if I had any ideas on what to do with it, and I told him I wanted to open the Panther Milk bar.
âHe definitely looked a little puzzled, but he trusted my judgment.
âWe originally planned to be open for only two months, but it got completely crazy.
âThere were waiting lists at the tables, and then Vice magazine ran an article about it that blew it up even more.
“We ended up staying open for four and a half years until the bar was sold.”
Those who have tried it will know exactly what gives Panther Milk its unique flavor, but for those still wondering what makes this milky drink so sought after, we asked Paul to provide some clarification. Rest assured, no jungle cat is harmed in the process.
Pictured: Harry Savory of Dark Arts Drinks
He said: âPeople seem to really like him in Glasgow, it’s definitely that kind of cult.
âTraditionally in Spain, it is made with milk, condensed milk, rum, gin and brandy.
âWe use oat milk instead because we want to be as sustainable as possible and then we have a range of different flavors like chocolate, mint, banana or strawberry.
âIt’s 15% and therefore has the same abbreviation as something like Tequila Roseâ¦ or Buckfast.
âIt packs a punch. ”
Measuring the alcohol content of a drink compared to Buckfast may be a clear indication of strong Glasgwegian roots, but Paul now believes the time has come to grow his business even further.
Pictured: Fraser McIlwraith, Paul Crawford, Adam Strang and Harry Savory
Like many others in the industry, it was the covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that followed that prompted him to rediscover his true passion for sharing his cocktail creation with the world.
He said: âI was working in a tech start-up, but because of the covid, I was fired.
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âAt that point, I decided to focus all of my energy on launching Panther Milk as a brand.
âWe are now working with a Shawlands-based company called Dark Art Drinks and successfully launched in October of last year.
âIt’s really gotten stronger and stronger since then. ”
Pictured: Adam Strang and Harry Savory of Dark Arts at work
It’s an exciting time for Paul as he prepares to stock his drink across the UK and even hints that we may soon see him on our TV screens pitching the idea to famous entrepreneurs.
Despite this, there is no doubt that it is the people of Glasgow who have really helped shape the identity of Panther Milks over the years.
Pictured: Panther Milk goes nationwide
Paul said: âEveryone was really supportive of us, we got some big name bars like Bananamoon, SWG3 and Buck’s Bar to give us a chance to make it work.
âI was really blown away by all the support and I would love to be able to keep production in Glasgow as we grow.
“I think because of this following cult that we have, this town will always be the home of Panther Milk.”
âBeing able to become a UK-wide brand with its center in Glasgow is what I would like to achieve.
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