Palcohol

Powdered Alcohol Gets Thumbs-Up From U.S. Regulators

The U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has approved powdered alcohol for retail. This probably won't end well.

By Matt Picht | April 19, 2014

The same government that won't let us have commercial drones or home DNA testing kits has made yet another brilliant regulatory decision. The U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has just approved — wait for it — powdered alcohol.

A Bevlaw blogger first spotted the application, which approves seven different varieties of powdered alcohol. The blogger writes, "I am not astonished that this is a real product — but I am absolutely astonished that this is approved. ... The person that pushed this through must be very patient or lucky." (Via Lehrman Beverage Law)

Powdered alcohol isn't a totally novel concept — in 2007, food technology students in the Netherlands came up with Booz2Go, a just-add-water powder which could turn any drink into an alcohol. (Via YouTube / Diagonal Line)

The alcohol powder that will be coming to the States includes vodka and rum powders, along with powdered cocktails like Lemon Drop, Cosmopolitan, Mojito and Margarita. They're all going to be marketed under the brand ... *deep sigh* ... "Palcohol."

In what appears to be one of its rare moments of maturity, the Internet has greeted Palcohol with skepticism. Gawker calls Palcohol "a product that, in the wrong hands, could make the darkest days of the Four Loko era look tame."

And The Braiser rants, "An alcoholic product that could easily be confused for a Crystal Lite package CLEARLY WON’T CAUSE ANY TROUBLE, RIGHT GUYS? *facepalm*"

Meanwhile, under the lede "Well, this sure is a terrible idea," Refinery29 notes most Palcohol products are advertised as containing about 55-65 percent alcohol by volume. "We can practically hear the chorus of stomach pumps now."

And if you're wondering where all this animosity towards Palcohol is coming from, just check out the company's sales pitch.

This cached version of the Palcohol website — pre-federal approval, of course — features a list of "possibilities" for the product. The list includes dodging expensive booze prices at clubs and concert, smuggling alcohol into the big game, and mixing powdered vodka into your next omlette.

And then there's this paragraph, reprinted in full. "Let's talk about the elephant in the room ... snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you'll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose. Good idea? No. It will mess you up. Use Palcohol responsibly." Thanks for the tip, Palcohol.

It's hard to imagine how lines like that made it past regulators. Did Palcohol's application come with free samples?

In all fairness, the company's cleaned up their act after getting federal approval, which apparently caught them off-guard. Palcohol's new toned-down site reads, "The verbiage that was copied was still in draft mode. ... Please disregard what is being printed as a result of information taken from the earlier version of this site."

Palcohol is expected to hit the shelves this fall. As with all alcohol products, use Palcohol responsibly and safely. And please don't snort and drive.

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