Powdered Alcohol Is Real — But Is It Really Legal?

04/22/2014 at 03:10 PM ET

Palcohol Powdered Alcohol
Courtesy Facebook/We Oppose Palcohol

In the last 24 hours, you may have seen the Internet’s mini-eruption over Palcohol, a powder that can turn your water into a margarita, cosmo or lemon drop martini — or at least something that tastes sort of like those drinks and has a similar inebriating effect.

But don’t be dreaming up plans for illicit sidewalk or stadium boozing just yet.

Several news agencies first reported that the handy-sounding one-ounce packets, which are equivalent to one shot of booze and can turn five ounces of liquid into an instant alcoholic beverage, would soon be on the market. But it turns out Lipsmark, the company that manufacturers Palcohol, hit a snag in Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) label approvals process. According to the Associated Pressa representative for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau wrote that “the approvals were issued in error.”

A rep for Lipsmark declined to comment beyond what was written on Palcohol’s web site, which claims that the product is approved; there’s just a discrepancy in how much powder will be allowed in each bag.

On the home page, the company wrote that the Palcohol product itself was approved “some time ago” and gave the following update about the approvals process: “We have been in touch with the TTB and there seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag. There was a mutual agreement for us to surrender the labels. This doesn’t mean that Palcohol isn’t approved. It just means that these labels aren’t approved. We will re-submit labels. We don’t have an expected approval date as label approval can vary widely.”

At press time, reps from the TTB had not responded to a request for comment.

According to Palcohol’s web site, Phillips came up with idea after realizing he didn’t want to lug heavy bottles of wine or liquor during active outings like hiking and kayaking, but that he sometimes wanted to relax with a drink once he was finished. (And nothing weighs down your backpack more than 750 milliliters’ worth of Pinot Noir.)

So for drinkers on the go, the company is planning to sell six different varieties of Palcohol. V (vodka) and R (rum) can be added to mixers to create different cocktails. For those who’d rather just add water, there will be four flavored types: Lemon Drop, Powderita, Mojito and Cosmopolitan.

For anyone thinking they can skip the liquid and snort Palcohol directly, Lipsmark has some stern words of warning in their product FAQ: “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.”

Monday night on NBC News, Brian Williams mused about the implications of such discreet booze. “Imagine the possibilities here, the military, sporting events, high school proms, entire nations or cultures or communities that don’t allow alcohol,” he said.

We don’t condone spiking the punch bowl, but your own glass? That’s up to you. Suddenly, that marathon family dinner hosted by your anti-booze aunt is looking a whole lot more fun — if, of course, you can ever actually get your hands on this stuff.

—Lexi Dwyer

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Melissa on

It’s definately going to be the new cocaine. People will really get addicted to it!

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