A powdered alcohol, marketed as “Palcohol,” has been approved for retail sale by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Palcohol – a molecular encapsulated powder that when mixed with water produces an alcoholic drink – will be regulated the same as any other alcoholic beverage and be subject to similar licensing approval requirements. Palcohol is being rolled out in six flavors come the fall of 2014: vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, mojito, lemon drop and a margarita flavor.
According to the Washington Times on April 19, the driving force behind the powdered alcohol is the rising cost of liquid alcohol. Palcohol is expected to cost a fraction of the price of its liquid counterpart. The Food and Drug Administration did not factor into the approval process; Palcohol is under the oversight of Tobacco, Tax and Trade, a sub-unit of the US Department of Treasury.
Palcohol.com explains the thinking behind the powdered alcohol concept: “Yep, we’ve taken liquid alcohol and made it into a powder. Why? Sometimes liquid isn’t convenient. Because Palcohol is a powder, you can take it just about anywhere to enjoy a cocktail! That’s why we say: Take your Pal wherever you go!”
Says a reviewer on bevlaw.com: “First and for a long time, alcohol was just liquid. Then it was whipped, solidified and almost vaporized. And now alcohol is powderized.” Mark Phillips is listed as the “inventor” of Palcohol, and the company is in the process of gaining patents on the powdered drinks. Palcohol’s website has a disclaimer of sorts, stating that they were surprised that the information about their product’s release was unwrapped, as it were, before they were ready to make a formal announcement.
“We are excited by the approval of our powdered alcohol product, Palcohol,” said the company on its homepage. “However, we were caught off guard with the release of some of our labels by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). As a result, people visited this website that we thought was under the radar because we had not made a formal announcement of Palcohol.”
Nevertheless, Palcohol likely faces a number of hurdles before we see it available on shelves. Will grocers carry it or will it be strictly sold at liquor stores? Will it be available in bars and restaurants? Will individuals be allowed to carry it into concerts or sporting events, where outside alcoholic beverages are typically prohibited?
Reports the Inquisitr: “The company has said that they are not looking for investors or employees, and have no plans to go public at any point in the near future. Since the release of information about powdered alcohol being available to the public was a surprise to Palcohol, the company has scrubbed their website a bit since the news broke on April 17.”
Prior to Palcohol receiving the green light from the Treasury Department, their website spoke of using the powder as a potential food ingredient. That has since been yanked from their site. Gawker pulled some interesting information from palcohol.com, prior to the site's revamp, regarding potential food uses of Palcohol. One of the recommended uses of powdered alcohol was as a seasoning:
“We’ve been talking about drinks so far. But we have found adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. Sprinkle Palcohol on almost any dish and give it an extra kick. Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, Rum on a BBQ sandwich, Cosmo on a salad and Vodka on eggs in the morning to start your day off right. Experiment. Palcohol is great on so many foods. Remember, you have to add Palcohol AFTER a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it…and that defeats the whole purpose.”
This cached version of the Palcohol website – written prior to the feds granting approval of the powdered booze – even discussed the possibility of snorting the product: “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.” While this was written as a warning, it's clear that it will likely be seen as more of an invitation to try ingesting it similar to a drug.
Palcohol is said to have the same strength and flavor as regular alcohol, but will be sold for less. So what are your thoughts on this new powdered alcohol? A brilliant regulatory decision by the government, or an all-too-convenient way to drink and abuse alcohol? One that is sure to open the floodgates of consumption problems? Leave your comments below.
UPDATE April 22: