Chemistry

Powdered Alcohol Coming To The US

April 21, 2014 | by Lisa Winter

Photo credit: Palcohol

Humans have been enjoying alcohol for thousands of years in a variety of forms, but one aspect has always remained constant: it was liquid. Inventor Mark Phillips has created a product that could revolutionize what we think about cocktails and gives a whole new meaning to ‘dry martini’: powdered alcohol. The product, called Palcohol, has just gained approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). (See update at the bottom)

To turn Palcohol into your favorite adult beverage, you just add the powdered alcohol (which comes in a package sort of like a sugar packet) to five ounces of water. It currently comes in six varieties: rum, vodka, cosmopolitan, mojito, margarita, and lemon drop. Swapping out the water for a different mixer (such as soda or juice) can personalize the drink to suit an individual’s taste preference. 

Many are excited because Palcohol could be discretely brought in to places where liquor is not available or exorbitantly priced, such as sporting events, concerts, movie theaters, airplanes, cruise ships, and the like. However, it is for this precise reason that many are opposing its availability. 

One of the first questions to be brought up regarding the product was if it could be snorted. The short answer is yes, but it’s a terrible idea. The Palcohol website says this about snorting: “We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don't do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product. To take precautions against this action, we've added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel a lot of pain for very little gain. Just use it the right way.”

Despite approval from the TTB, there are many obstacles Palcohol faces before it shows up on store shelves, as each state must also approve the sale of powdered alcohol. Even if it is perfectly legal, retailers and wholesalers will also need to support its sale. It is almost certain that those who oppose it will be putting considerable pressure on them to oppose it, so there’s no telling how everything will play out. Despite the legal uncertainty, the minds behind Palcohol are still planning for a fall availability. There are no current predictions on how much the product will cost.

Update 4/21/2014 5:45 PDT: It has now come to light that Palcohol received approval for their label, not the product. A representative for the federal bureau said that the approval was made in error, though details were not provided about how the error occurred. Palcohol creator Mark Phillips was not available for comment, but agreed to surrender the approvals this afternoon. Phillips will likely re-evaluate the situation and try for approval on his labels again.

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