Soon you may be able to enjoy a Cosmopolitan by just adding water. (Photo: Robert Strong)
Would you drink powdered alcohol?
Published on April 21st, 2014 | by USA Today
Don’t expect powdered alcohol to hit store shelves anytime soon.
A product called “Palcohol” gained widespread attention online in recent days after it was reported that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the powdered alcohol, including vodka and rum varieties. But a representative for the federal bureau, Tom Hogue, said in an email to The Associated Press late Monday that the approvals were issued in error.
Hogue did not immediately respond to requests for further details, including how the error occurred. In an email message, Palcohol’s parent company Lipsmark said “there seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag.” It said it will resubmit the labels for approval.
According to the website for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, multiple varieties of Palcohol received “label approval” on April 8. Palcohol said in an email at around 5 p.m. EDT that it agreed to surrender the approvals “a few hours ago.”
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is a part of the Treasury Department.
Earlier in the day, Palcohol said in an email that its founder Mark Phillips was traveling and unavailable for an interview. It said it wasn’t releasing any information on distribution or pricing, and the company’s website doesn’t provide details on how it makes powdered alcohol.
Robert Lehrman, who runs a beverage law website that initially reported on the product, noted that Palcohol had to have gone through an extensive process before reaching the label approval stage.
“An oversight of this nature does not ring true to me,” Lehrman said in a phone interview. He suggested that the bureau may have heard back from lawmakers wanting more information on the powdered alcohols.
The concept of a powdered alcohol isn’t new. John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, noted that there have been multiple patents filed on powdered alcohols over the years. One by General Foods Corp. in the 1970s says the product is made by absorbing the ethanol onto some sort of carbohydrate powder.
On its website, Palcohol says it plans to offer six varieties of powdered alcohol, including vodka, rum and four cocktails — Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Powderita and Lemon Drop. The site says that a package weighs about an ounce and can fit into any pocket. It warns people that the powder should not be snorted.
According to the site, Phillips came up with the idea because he is an “active guy” and wanted a way to enjoy an adult beverage after long hours hiking, biking or camping without having to carry around heavy bottles.
As if alcohol, marijuana, caffeine, and pills of various kinds aren’t enough to give Americans a buzz, the federal government has approved a new product: powdered booze, reports Gawker.
Even the company behind it, Palcohol, says the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s approval caught it off guard. The product is now expected to hit shelves in the fall, giving consumers six just-add-water options to choose from, including straight options like vodka and mixed offerings like Cosmopolitan, reports Eater.
A sampling of the company’s old website copy and new (at Palcohol.com) may reflect a little legal advice:
Then: “We have found adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. … 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.”
Now: “Can Palcohol be added to food? I suppose so. … As Palcohol is a new product, we have yet to explore its potential of being added to food.”
Then: “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room….snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you’ll get drunk almost instantly … Good idea? No. It will mess you up.”
Now: “Can I snort it? We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don’t do it!”
The site now notes that the former “humorous and edgy verbiage about Palcohol” wasn’t “meant to be our final presentation of Palcohol,” and asserts that it was very clear even then that its product be used responsibly.
Lehrman Beverage Law, which first reported the TTB’s approval, is “absolutely astonished” that Palcohol was approved and says it “seems highly likely to raise a large number of legal issues and controversies.” (In other booze news, the plant tequila is derived from could help fight obesity.)