The Washington Post

Don’t get your hopes up about powdered alcohol just yet

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: Tables of artistic martinis lined the corridors of the The Corcoran Gallery of Art on Saturday, March 22, 2014 during the 2014 ARTINI event in Washington, DC. (Photo by Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post) Tables of artistic martinis lined the corridors of the Corcoran Gallery of Art during the 2014 ARTINI event in Washington, D.C. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

For a day or two, it really looked like powdered alcohol might have a chance to take off.

Need a rum and coke? Here! Just stir this magic alcoholic powder in it. A margarita? No problem. Just add water.

News agencies reported that the government agency that regulates alcohol, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), had approved six varieties of Palcohol including vodka, rum, Lemon Drop, Mojito, Powerita, and Cosmopolitan.

Well, don’t throw your flasks away just yet. Turns out, the agency hasn’t approved Palcohol. That was an error, a spokesman for the agency told the Associated Press, not offering much else.


Robert Lehrman, who runs the site Lehrman Beverage Law, initially reported on the approval. He thinks it was called back after legislators heard about it and demanded to know more.

“An oversight of this nature does not ring true to me,” Lehrman told AP, because government approval takes months of consideration.

Palcohol offered this statement on its Web site Monday afternoon:

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.

There are obvious concerns for abuse: You can snort it, for one. The makers advise against this:

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.

But carrying around your own little packets of alcohol in your pockets would also, conceivably, make it much easier and much cheaper to get sloshed at sporting events or concerts, where alcohol intake is mitigated by outrageous prices, and if that doesn’t provide enough in the way of temperance, bartenders who can refuse to serve you. Stadiums and arenas already employ bag checks and generally disallow outside beverages. Packets could be much easier to conceal.

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality.



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